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Japan finally hopes to ditch floppy discs 24 years after Apple did

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Almost a quarter of a century after the original iMac made floppy disks obsolete, Japan’s government has announced its going to try to stop using them.

Apple was saved by the iMac, but when it was launched it did face severe criticism for having abandoned the then-ubiquitous floppy disk drive. Exactly as would happen when the iPhone ditched its headphone jack, the industry cricitized and mocked — and then quickly followed suit.

According to BBC News, however, there has been at least one holdout. Even now, it is claimed that around 1,900 government procedures in Japan require businesses to use floppy disks.

This is not completely true, as in at least some cases those firms are allowed to use CDs and mini-discs. But these are also technologies that the industry has mostly abandoned, with Apple again leading the change by beginning to drop optical drives in 2008.

BBC News reports that Japan’s digital minister Taro Kono has “declared war” on floppy disks — and other old technology.

“Where does one even buy a floppy disk these days?” he said. “I’m [also] looking to get rid of the fax machine, and I still plan to do that.”

If he wanted, Amazon still has old stock, for as low as $18 for 10 disks. For that $18, you get 14.4 megabytes of space — or you can buy a flash drive with 128 GB.

For a country that at least manufactures the latest technology if it doesn’t also invent it, Japan has a remarkable history of sticking with old methods. It was only in 2019 that the last pager service ended, for instance.

And in 2018, Japan’s then-new cybersecurity minister Yoshitaka Sakurada revealed that “I have never used a computer in my life.” He said that he had always delegated such things to his staff.

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