FLOPPY DISK, the palm-sized magnetic data storage device, is whirring its last goodbye.
Fondly known as "diskette", the floppy disk became a fixture of the personal computer market in the 1980s and 90s, along with its perfectly matched paramour Floppy Disk Drive.
But the decision by Dell Computers to banish disk drives from its higher spec machines has spelled a conclusive end.
Where Dell goes, according to received techie wisdom, the rest follow. Some friends will have perhaps seen an indication of its fate in the introduction of the floppy disk-less iMac in 1998.
The floppy disk first emerged in the early 70s, conceived as an 8-inch disk by IBM. It was soon usurped by the 5¼-inch disk - a true floppy thanks to its bendable casing - which could handle 360 kilobytes of data.
By the early 80s the floppy had mutated again, this time into a more robust 3½-inch disk which could handle 1.44 megabytes of data - that's about enough for a three-minute song, or 11 copies of William Shakespeare's Macbeth.
By 1997, when production peaked at five billion, floppy disks were everywhere, mainly because their limited capacity meant it took half a dozen to store even a moderately-sized program.
The emergence of alternatives such as the CD-RW, which has a storage capacity almost 500 times that of a floppy, and the internet, which enabled swift transfer of floppy-sized files, were effectively its death knell.
Its passing will be particularly mourned by double entendre opportunists. But the floppy is sure to live on in decidedly lo-tech incarnations (drinks coasters).
Some of your tributes:
Good-bye 3.5" disk, good-bye 1.44MB DS DD, good-bye 3.5" drive and good-bye "c:>format a: /q/b"
Alas, dear floppy, I loved you well -
Now Dell's bells doth sound thy knell.
Yet all things pass as all things must:
The humble floppy bytes the dust.
Alas, poor floppy is now a stiff.
You enabled me to copy,
Little files even though
You were at times sloppy.
But in the new-tech age,
You have but no place,
So go now, and don't get all Soppy.
A:las poor floppy, I knew you well
A seedy affair.
Please insert another disk. This tribute has run out of spa....
Tommy T, UK