Tom Persky sells, transfers and recycles floppy disks. He’s the only one left in the game. His company currently has in its possession around half a million 3.5-inch, 5.25-inch and 8-inch disks, along with other rarer formats.
His typical customers vary: from individuals looking to retrieve important files from old disks through to enterprise businesses that invested in the format many (many!) years ago and are still locked in to some degree.
This is a nice interview, with some lovely thoughts around the edges that recall a very different time:
To me, the floppy disk is a highly refined, technical, stable, not very hackable, way to get relatively small amounts of data where you want it. I grew up in the days of the Sneakernet and at the time, the floppy disk was how we moved information around. It’s a really remarkable thing. There’s a beauty and elegance to them. I can see how complicated they are, and what an elegant solution they were for their time. I’m not a watch collector, but I have friends who are. The beauty of a finely made watch is something to behold. Even though it might be less reliable than a $19 clock, it is a work of art. Just consider the human effort that went into its making. The same can be said about the floppy disk.
: Many years ago I floated an idea for a project based around media obsolescence: the corporate wars, inventions and technologies that resulted in formats, filetypes and media types falling out of use. Unfortunately I was far from the only person with this idea, and several books were eventually written about it. Here’s an old Ars Technica piece on popular media obsolescence
which covered similar ground to something I was working up at the time.