Floppies On Their Way Out, Good or Bad

Most computer users who "live in the now" may have a 3.5" floppy drive, but like most, rarely if ever use it. Since larger storage capacity technology has become available in every computer under the sun, the floppy drive has practically become an afterthought. Dell Computer Corp. stopped including a floppy drive in new computers in spring 2003, and Gateway Inc. has followed suit on some models. Floppies are available on request for $10 to $20 extra.

For some, the habit is hard to break. "To some customers out there, it's like a security blanket," said Dell spokesman Lionel Menchaca. "Every computer they've ever had has had a floppy, so they still feel the need to order a floppy drive."

"As long as we see customers request it, we'll continue to offer it," said Gateway spokeswoman Lisa Emard. "We'll be happy to move off the floppy once our customers are ready to make that move." Tarun Bhakta, president of Vision Computers outside Atlanta, one of the largest computer retailers in the South, added, "People say they want a floppy drive, and then I ask them, 'When was the last time you used it?' A lot of the time, they say, 'Never."

Some people just like to hold onto their fond memories of technology gone by. "There's always some nostalgia," said Scott Wills, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Georgia Tech who has held on to an old 8-inch floppy disk. "It's a technology I'm glad to be rid of. I'd never label them, and I never knew what any of them were until I put them in and looked."

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