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Icons of Progress
 

The Floppy Disk

When introduced by IBM in 1971, the floppy disk made it possible to easily load software and updates onto mainframe computers. As the technology evolved and personal computers became popular, the floppy disk enabled people to share data and programs more easily. An office worker could save documents on a disk at the end of the day and load them onto his home computer to finish up that night. A college student could save her research paper on a floppy disk and submit it to her professor to read and grade on his office computer. People weren’t tied to a specific computer anymore. They could easily transfer data and programs from one machine to another. It truly revolutionized the way people worked, and quickly became the most widely used storage medium for small systems.

In April 2010, Sony, the only company still producing floppy disks, announced it would stop manufacturing them in March 2011. In response to this announcement, BBC News Magazine asked readers how they use floppy disks today. Many people responded that they still use floppy disks to update or back up old systems, but others have found more unique uses as drink coasters, spatulas, ice scrapers and clothing accessories.