Japan prepares to abandon the use of the floppy disk in its administrative procedures | companies

The floppy disk was born in 1964 by Alan Shugar at IBM. It was called floppy disk (flexible disk) and was 20 centimeters in diameter, but they were reducing its size to the current almost 9 centimeters. Over time, they also ended up changing their name to diskette (floppy disk). Its creation was a revolution, given that the hard drives of the time, created 11 years earlier, were tremendously cumbersome due to their large size. In fact, the first hard drive weighed no less than a ton.

The adoption of the diskette to contain files, both at the individual and institutional level, was interrupted by the progressive increase in the size of programs, as well as the flow of data shared by users. With the arrival of the internet, which gave the possibility of communicating both for the transport of data between computers and for backup or backupthe floppy disk lost its place as standard media, and production was finally discontinued by Sony in March 2011.

However, the slow process of institutional digitization has meant that in many countries it took several decades to replace the diskette in administrative processes, and in some it is even still used. This is the case of Japan, where the newly appointed Japanese Minister of Digitization, Taro Kono, has lit up the networks this Wednesday by launching a tweet where he declares “war” on floppy disks.

Kono revealed that the Japanese public administration requires the use of floppy disks and similar storage devices such as CDs or the lesser-known minidisk, in some 1,900 procedures for filing applications and other forms, even though floppy disks are now a thing of the past.

One of the minister’s commitments is to eliminate obsolete tools from the bureaucracy, such as the fax or the hanko, a carved red seal that is still required to sign official documents, such as marriage licenses. He tried to curb the use of both when he was the minister in charge of Administrative Reform, but both are still widely used. “We are going to review these practices quickly (…). Where can you buy a floppy today?” Kono questioned at a press conference on Tuesday, adding that he has the support of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The Japanese still use tools such as the ‘hanko’ stamp or the fax

Legal hurdles make it difficult to adopt modern technologies, such as cloud storage, for wider use within the bureaucracy, according to a presentation Tuesday by the Japanese government’s Digitization division. The Japanese authorities plan to announce improvements in this regard at the end of the year.

Just as floppy disks have their days numbered, it seems that the next to disappear could be the USB. The 2000 arrived accompanied by the flash drives, which could contain between 8 and 64 megabytes at the time, in a device the size of a keychain. However, in recent years it has been replaced by cloud storage. Last year CEU San Pablo became the first university in Spain to stop using the flash drives. Everything seems to indicate that in the future mobile phones and computers will do without the USB port and everything will be stored on virtual servers.

Other countries

USA. Japan is not the only country that is reluctant to let go of the floppy disk. Until a few years ago, the United States still used it to contain its nuclear program. It was not until 2019 that it was publicly disclosed that the North American giant had begun to replace floppy disks. Despite being a completely obsolete support, those responsible for the Air Force defended its continuity because it was not susceptible to being hacked, as digital supports are.

Spain. In the public institutions of our country, the diskette began to be abandoned after its withdrawal from the market in 2011. More and more procedures can be carried out using a digital certificate. In the coming years, the Administration is expected to advance in the digitization process until it completely adopts virtual media.

Norway. The Norwegian medical system used diskettes until 2016. Doctors received a diskette from the Norwegian Health Directory once a month to update their patient data, although they also had the option of accessing an online database.

Planes. Boeing 747-400s, which went out of production in 2009, still use floppy disks to load critical navigation databases, consulting firm Pen Test Partners has revealed. A company researcher made this discovery when a British airline decided to scrap its fleet of B747s.


Related Articles

Back to top button