March 25, 2023
Most people use computers and smartphones that are a few years old at most, but legacy technology is a common sight in key infrastructure. Case in point — San Francisco’s transit agency is still using 5-inch floppy disks. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s chief, Jeffrey Tumlin, mentioned during an interview that the train control system…

Most people use computers and smartphones that are a few years old at most, but legacy technology is a common sight in key infrastructure. Case in point — San Francisco’s transit agency is still using 5-inch floppy disks.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s chief, Jeffrey Tumlin, mentioned during an interview that the train control system in the Market Street subway is still loaded from 5.25-inch floppy drives. Mind you, this floppy drive format was first introduced in 1976, roughly 47 years ago, and it was largely superseded by the end of the 1980s for the smaller, 3.5-inch floppy drives. Floppy drives themselves are mostly gone from public use. For a system to support this old of a drive, it has to be at least 30 or 40 years old.

Technology can be hard to replace in a lot of business contexts, which is usually why Windows versions geared towards servers or embedded systems are supported for much longer. It’s also how we usually end up with things such as ATMs running Windows XP.

Outdated technology was one of the culprits behind the massive meltdown Southwest…

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