The floppy disk business will be toast in four more years, reckons the self-described “last man standing in the floppy disk business.” However, Tom Persky, Owner of US-based floppydisk.com, a site dedicated to servicing the last pockets of demand for diskettes, says the end is in sight.
Sony was the last diskette maker, ceasing production a decade ago, but Persky’s business has been ticking over on “a couple of million” floppy disks snapped up when production ended. Every now and then, Persky gets a chance to buy a few pallets full of unused floppies that firms find in the back of their warehouse. However, Floppydisk.com is currently on its last half a million diskettes, and they are an unquantified mix of 3.5-, 5.25- and 8-inch designs and a few less common formats. As an aside, Persky says that he also recycles floppy disks – rather than see them going to landfill – and gets up to 1,000 disks a day in the mail. These are tested, guaranteed, and sold at $19.95 for a pack of 50.
You might be curious who still needs floppy disks in 2022. The answer is wide-ranging, with a diverse clientele still eating up these computer consumables regularly. Some of the biggest floppy disk orders come from industrial firms, as well as avionics, healthcare, and embroidery. All these customers have something in common; they use serviceable, good working order machinery that is perhaps 20+ years old and use a floppy drive to save and load data. Incidentally, the Japanese government has only just decided to phase out the required filing of certain official documents on floppies and CDs.
Other avenues for diskette sales are hobbyists and retro computing folk. Also, we must not forget the old but often revered musical synthesizers and workstations that use floppies for sound patches, sequences, and other data. However, demand from users of devices like digital cameras with floppy disk drives (like the Sony Mavica) must be negligible.
Elsewhere in the interview by Eye on Design and brought to light by The Register, we learn about why, how, and when Persky got into the floppy business. Obviously, it is a long-standing business, as no one would create such a business now. Persky was originally in the floppy and optical disk duplication business. However, as the utility value of ODDs has been swept aside by super-fast internet connectivity, Perksy’s business is currently about 90% reliant on floppy sales. As the headline goes, Persky doesn’t see a long future for his business, another four years perhaps, but he would be the first to admit that he is “not exactly a person with great vision.”