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Thread: Last of the 8" drives

  1. #1
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    Default Last of the 8" drives

    Article about the Air Force upgrading part of the Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS) emergency action message system. Lot of people thought how could they keep something this old still in use but myself look at it like if it works why change it, and know from experience that the government has no issues having to keep manufactures of obsolete or arcane technology in business so donít imagine it was a lack of availability of media or parts. Nothing new for the military to run systems that are twenty or thirty years old. Try that with some of the junk thatís manufactured today or with the bloated operating systems that we keep getting pushed to use. God help us if we ever have to depend on Windows 10 to keep us from nuclear Armageddon.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/mil...-floppy-disks/

  2. #2
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    It does help explain why Athana sold off their floppy manufacturing equipment. No steady high profit government contract makes floppy production higher risk.

    YE-DATA was producing 4,000 8" drives a year all through the 90s but stockpiled spares should be running scarce by now.

  3. #3
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    This is what happens when you let the media sensationalize non-issue stuff.

    "YOUR MILITARY is using OLD TECHNOLOGY with NUCLEAR MISSILES!"

    It may never of had problems the way it was being used, but that won't stop the ridicule that because something's old it's therefore it's not cutting edge enough to be useable still. Your taxpayer dollars at work.
    = Excellent space heater

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    Athana, as far as I could tell, has been simply selling off old stock, not making anything new.

    Here's an exercise. Take you brand-new shiny USB flash drive in your emulator and your old 8" floppy. Put both on a shelf and come back in 20 years. Which will be reliably readable?

    It wasn't that long ago that nuclear power stations used core memory and paper tape for storage.

  5. #5
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    https://www.c4isrnet.com/air/2019/10...-floppy-disks/

    The REALLY scary sentence in that article is:

    "While SACCís hardware is decades old, its software is constantly refreshed by young Air Force programmers who learn software development skills at Offuttís Rapid Agile Development Lab."

    Look up the definition of "agile development"

    "Most agile development methods break product development work into small increments that minimize the amount of up-front planning and design."

    "Code fast and break things"

    Think about what that means for a communications system that can trigger WW III

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Kossow View Post
    "Code fast and break things"
    https://hbr.org/2019/01/the-era-of-m...things-is-over

    not a minute too soon

  8. #8
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    Military hardware is old as hell. They design stuff that takes years, then they budget it, start slowly cranking it out, and then use it for decades with little maintenance so yea you might have an 8" disk drive controlling a missile system older then that drive.

    I never used an 8" disk of any kind, don't think I ever touched one, but I suspect they were more reliable then 5.25" disks which were much more reliable then 3.5" disks. I would be more worried if their missile systems had launch codes on a 3.5" floppy disk then an 8" disk. Besides I like to see somebody trying to sneak out a 8" floppy in their pocket.
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
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  9. #9
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    8" drives and disks were fairly reliable, as long as one stayed away from Wabash brand disks. Although later 8" drives with direct drive spindle motors and that did not constantly spin, would probably be preferable.

    Personally, I'd be more worried about any Chinese hardware they might replace them with. When the day comes they have to aim the nukes at China, what will happen? :P (Besides oh, noes, no more iPhones!)

  10. #10
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    I would really hope it isn't a USB solution at the core. Most floppy emulators on the market already use that for the basic method to load data on and off, but USB is far more prone to security issues such as controller MITM attacks, unintended code execuation, media walking away and everyone's favourite, USB Killer sticks.

    At least with a floppy drive you can buy shelf stock, align to something custom and immediately you have a standard format using standard media and drives that cannot be easily read by normal drives and media that cannot be easily written from outside sources and brought into the system, added on top of whatever software format and encryption is used.
    = Excellent space heater

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