• Meet the Man Who Still Sells Floppy Disks

    From John Dillinger@3:770/3 to All on Sat Sep 17 11:32:52 2022

    Meet the Man Who Still Sells Floppy Disks (aiga.org)
    Posted by EditorDavid on Saturday September 17, 2022 @10:34AM from the storage-spaces dept.

    Eye on Design is the official blog of the US-based professional
    graphic design organization AIGA. They've just published a fascinating interview with Tom Persky, who calls himself "the last man standing in
    the floppy disk business."

    He is the time-honored founder of floppydisk.com, a US-based company
    dedicated to the selling and recycling of floppy disks. Other services
    include disk transfers, a recycling program, and selling used and/or
    broken floppy disks to artists around the world. All of this makes floppydisk.com a key player in the small yet profitable contemporary
    floppy scene....

    Perkins: I was actually in the floppy disk duplication business. Not
    in a million years did I think I would ever sell blank floppy disks. Duplicating disks in the 1980s and early 1990s was as good as printing
    money. It was unbelievably profitable. I only started selling blank
    copies organically over time. You could still go down to any office
    supply store, or any computer store to buy them. Why would you try to
    find me, when you could just buy disks off the shelf? But then these
    larger companies stopped carrying them or went out of business and
    people came to us. So here I am, a small company with a floppy disk
    inventory, and I find myself to be a worldwide supplier of this
    product. My business, which used to be 90% CD and DVD duplication, is
    now 90% selling blank floppy disks. It's shocking to me....

    Q: Where does this focus on floppy disks come from? Why not work with
    another medium...?

    Perkins: When people ask me: "Why are you into floppy disks today?"
    the answer is: "Because I forgot to get out of the business."
    Everybody else in the world looked at the future and came to the
    conclusion that this was a dying industry. Because I'd already bought
    all my equipment and inventory, I thought I'd just keep this revenue
    stream. I stuck with it and didn't try to expand. Over time, the total
    number of floppy users has gone down. However, the number of people
    who provided the product went down even faster. If you look at those
    two curves, you see that there is a growing market share for the last
    man standing in the business, and that man is me....

    I made the decision to buy a large quantity, a couple of million
    disks, and we've basically been living off of that inventory ever
    since. From time to time, we get very lucky. About two years ago a guy
    called me up and said: "My grandfather has all this floppy junk in the
    garage and I want it out. Will you take it?" Of course I wanted to
    take it off his hands. So, we went back and forth and negotiated a
    fair price. Without going into specifics, he ended up with two things
    that he wanted: an empty garage and a sum of money. I ended up with
    around 50,000 floppy disks and that's a good deal.

    In the interview Perkins reveals he has around half a million floppy
    disks in stock - 3.5-inch, 5.25-inch, 8-inch, "and some rather rare
    diskettes. Another thing that happened organically was the start of
    our floppy disk recycling service. We give people the opportunity to
    send us floppy disks and we recycle them, rather than put them into a
    landfill. The sheer volume of floppy disks we get in has really
    surprised me, it's sometimes a 1,000 disks a day."

    But he also estimates its use is more widespread than we realize.
    "Probably half of the air fleet in the world today is more than 20
    years old and still uses floppy disks in some of the avionics. That's
    a huge consumer. There's also medical equipment, which requires floppy
    disks to get the information in and out of medical devices.... "

    And in the end he seems to have a genuine affection for floppy disk
    technology. "There's this joke in which a three-year-old little girl
    comes to her father holding a floppy disk in her hand. She says:
    'Daddy, Daddy, somebody 3D-printed the save icon.' The floppy disks
    will be an icon forever."

    The interview is excerpted from a new book called Floppy Disk Fever:
    The Curious Afterlives of a Flexible Medium.

    Hat tip for finding the story to the newly-redesigned front page of
    The Verge.


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