A relic of the 1990s, floppy disks recycled for a second life by OC Company

Tom Persky with a floppy disk
FloppyDisk.com owner and disk trader Tom Persky shows off a 3.5-inch computer disk in his Lake Forest warehouse. REUTERS/Alan Devall

Two decades have passed since their heyday, but a wholesale supplier of the iconic 3.5-inch floppy disks used to store data in the 1990s says business is still booming.

Tom Persky runs FloppyDisk.coma Lake Forest-based online record recycling service that collects new and used records before sending them to a reliable customer base — he estimates he sells around 500 records a day.

Who buys floppy disks in an age when more sophisticated storage devices such as CD-ROMs, DVDs and USB sticks have become increasingly obsolete thanks to the internet and cloud storage? Those in embroidery, tools and dies, and the airline industry, especially those involved in aircraft maintenance, Persky says.

“If you were building an airplane 20, 30, or even 40 years ago, you would use a floppy disk to get information in and out of the avionics on that airplane,” Persky, 73, said.

In his warehouse, the shelves are filled with bright green, orange, blue, yellow or black discs sent from all over the world. At one end is a large magnetic machine with a conveyor belt that erases information from discs, while another machine affixes labels to them.

The warehouse also contains 8-inch floppy disks, an even older storage medium.

Despite being a relic in the modern world, Persky says floppy disks have several redeeming qualities.

“Floppy disks are very reliable, very stable, a very well understood way of getting information in and out of a machine,” he says. “Plus, they have the added feature of not being very hackable.”

Persky ended up in the floppy disk business after working in software development for a tax company in the 1990s that duplicated its software on floppy disks. He says he fell in love with the company and took it over after it split.

But he doesn’t expect him to survive another 20 years.

“When I see the ‘save’ icon, I see a floppy disk. But most people only see the ‘Save’ icon,” Persky said.

“I’ll be here as long as people want these records. But it’s not forever. »

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