Tech

More than ten years after their death, the Japanese government declares “war” on floppy disks.

WTF?! Several technical products that can definitely be considered obsolete are still widely used in Japan. CDs, fax machines, and other archaic technologies remain part of many Japanese government procedures, but the country’s digital minister has declared “war” on one of its most iconic: floppy disks.

Japan’s Digital Minister tweeted that floppy disks, CDs and even mini-disks are still required for some 1,900 government procedures in which business communities submit applications and other forms. The country’s digital agency is about to bring these procedures into the modern era (or into the 21st century) by allowing them to be performed online.

“We will quickly review these practices,” Kono said at a press conference on Tuesday (via bloomberg). He added that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offered his full support. “Where can you even buy a floppy disk these days?”

The Japanese government’s digital task force writes that the wider adoption of modern technologies such as cloud storage among the bureaucracy is slowing down due to legal hurdles. By the end of the year, the company plans to announce improvements and system updates.

A number of the legacy technologies from our article “Once Iconic Tech Products Now Fading into Memory” are still in use in Japan today. Fax machines, which until recently were used by government agencies in many countries, are still found in many government agencies in Japan.

“I want to get rid of the fax machine and I still plan to do it,” Kono said.

Once upon a time, floppy disks were the standard format for computer software. There were several versions, including the eight-inch (80 KB) which was first used in 1967, and the 5.25-inch (360 KB duplex) which were popular in the early 1980s. But most people associate them with the more rigid 3.5-inch floppy disk, named for the flexible inner shell that holds the data.

It’s unlikely that regular users have come across many floppy disks over the past decade, but the 8-inch versions were only phased out by the US in 2019 for their nuclear weapons systems – the Pentagon switched to solid state drives. There was also Boeing, which still used classic 3.5-inch floppy disks to update software on some of its Boeing 747 aircraft in 2020.




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