This Was A Thing: Floppy Disks

160308193141-gbs-floppy-disk-super-teaseHow many younger folks, let’s say below the age of 20 but possibly older, know what the save button on Microsoft Word is actually an image of?

If you hover over it, all it says is “Save.” There’s no link that appears leading you to the history of the seemingly pre-historic floppy disk. There’s no trail of tears from all the students who brought work to school on a floppy only to have something inevitably go wrong. There’s nothing. Just “Save.”

The notion that everything isn’t completely inter-connected is a foreign one to a younger demographic. The concept that, as recently as 20 years ago, absolutely nothing seemed to be inter-connected is downright Twilight Zone-type shit.

Every so often, I’ll substitute teach at the high school I attended and get an unexpected lesson on the state of education—essentially, how much of what they learn, interact with and submit for school is done seamlessly online.

When WebAssign first got introduced to us in high school—a platform where teachers could put up assignments, post grades, etc.—our collective heads almost exploded. Just a week ago it was a fucking coup to find out what your teacher’s first name was… now we were doing homework through the goddamn internet? Good lord in heaven.

What we were used to, what that under-20 crowd is completely unaware of outside of apocryphal tales from dusty-looking parents, was the notion of having to save things to a magnetic storage drive that was covered in plastic TO SHIELD IT FROM DUST. Yes, literally dust.

Further adding to the wait, what? factor… there was a limited amount of space on each of them. And by limited, I really, really mean that. You could fit, what, 4 pages of a research paper on each? So, as a user of the floppy disk, you had to carefully manage storage and not blindly take it for granted like some millennial with unlimited cloud space.

You’d bring it in to wherever you needed to be, physically ram it into a computer’s drive and pray to whatever God you prayed to that it would recognize your files.

This was the life you lead if you had a floppy disk. This, sadly, was a thing.

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