Sony this weekend said it would finally put an end to floppy disk production in its home country, marking the effective end to the format’s 41-year run. Having already stopped selling floppies in most areas as of March this year, it now expects to stop sales of 3.5-inch disks in Japan as of March 2011. Developing markets like India continue to sell the disks today, but their fate isn’t known.
The cutoff comes as the result of both changes in design philosophy and technology. Apple was one of the first to aggressively move away from floppies as it dropped all floppies from the iMac in 1998 and the rest of its lineup soon afterwards. The format remained popular for years later but declined rapidly as writable optical discs, USB flash drives and the Internet made the 1.44MB disk obsolete. Virtually no desktops or notebooks now even have the option of a floppy drive.
Swelling file sizes have also made floppies impractical, as virtually anything other than text is now too large to fit the available space. Some PC computer and mainboard companies had been using floppies for firmware updates even late into the last decade, but this has also been phased out.