And I thought genealogists were sometimes slow to modernize! Lesley Stahl from the “60 Minutes” news program discovered that the U.S. Air Force still uses 8-inch floppy disks to load data into the communication system that delivers launch commands to US missile forces. That includes missiles with nuclear warheads.
8-inch floppies? I thought they became obsolete in the 1980s.
The article really hit close to me because I worked on that command and control system when I was in the Air Force in the late 1960s and, yes, I used the 8-inch floppies while performing my duties. The smaller 5 1/4-inch disks had not been invented yet and the even smaller 3 1/2-inch floppies were not to be used for more than another decade in the future. I believe the single-sided 8-inch floppies stored about 80-kilobytes although a double-sided version could store about double that. I don’t remember if the disks I used were single or double-sided.
Air Force personnel interviewed in this week’s news report appeared to be in their twenties or thirties and admitted they had never seen an 8-inch floppy disk until they started working on the launch control system.
You can read more and even watch the video of the story on 60 Minutes at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/whos-minding-the-nuclear-weapons/.