Briefly: If you’re old enough to know that floppy disks are about more than just saving codes, nostalgically remembering pulling out the write-protection tabs, scribbling on labels, and those storage boxes with lockable lids, take heart in knowing that a 3.5 inch floppy disk is still the size Clinging to life, even in Chuck E. Cheese.
The revelation comes from Chuck E. Cheese employee Stewart, who goes by TikTok’s showbizpizzaman. Its viral clip shows the company still uses floppy disks, which can hold up to 1.44MB, to store the latest actions, lighting, and sync data for mechanical animals; The person uploading it is called “Evergreen Show 2023”.
Those who were around in the ’90s will likely smile at the familiarity of how long the whole process takes as the disc is loaded into a “Cyberstar” rack-mounted computer system dating back to about 1998.
How to pin a new offer at Chuck E. Cheese
original sound – Stewart
As Ars Technica notes, the computer extracts .CEC files from a self-extracting file called EGREEN23.EXE that was compressed using the shared software version v2.50 of PKSFX by PKWARE, which was copyrighted in 1999.
Sadly, Stewart says, the video marks the last time Chuck E. Cheese will use a floppy disk while the company upgrades to a new file system for its animated creatures. Fewer than 50 of the company’s 600 restaurants still use floppy disks for Studio C’s 25-year-old mobile electronics design.
Floppy disks were one entry in the “once-iconic technology products that are now faded memory” feature, but the old technology is still used today. Wired writes that the majority of companies still using them are small companies with tight margins that either couldn’t afford to upgrade their outdated systems or simply couldn’t afford it.
One of the most popular areas where 3.5″ floppy disks are still used is applying software updates to older Boeing 747 aircraft still in service. Tom Persky, founder of floppydisk.com, confirmed last year that he was still getting orders from airlines. “Probably half of the air fleet in the world today is more than 20 years old and still uses floppy disks for avionics,” he said.
The military has also been a longstanding user of floppy disks. It was only in 2019 that the Pentagon stopped using 1970 IBM Series-1 computers — complete with 8-inch floppy disks — as part of its nuclear weapons systems. The agency moved away from this method of storage and opted for SSDs instead; It’s unlikely that there are any floppy drives in the $75 million network the Air Force just received to protect its nuclear silos.
Floppy disks remain a common sight in other areas, such as medical devices and some government agencies, in part because of their reliability. But disk drives and disks are becoming harder and therefore more expensive to find—8-inch floppy disks are nearly extinct—so don’t expect them to be around for another 30+ years.