US nuclear force still uses floppy disks

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,222
Last week I tried to use a couple of 1.44 meg plastic floppies and they wouldn't even format.:(
Not much of a loss, considering I haven't opened the drawer for a floppy in several years.:rolleyes:
5 out of 7 hard drives wouldn't register after 5 years on the shelf.:confused:
I hope the U.S. Military Forces don't have drawers full of dusty old floppies and expect them to work after 5 or 10 years.:eek:
All those billion$ in nuclear bombs, useless because the, "storage" devices don't store.:D

And yes, I used punch cards.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
8,490
Sure they still use it. It's the last resort after all other systems have failed or been destroyed, quadruple redundant, network offline, alien attack, end of the world, final countdown, press the red planet kill button system that's deep in the deepest bunker.

 
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dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
12,911
Last week I tried to use a couple of 1.44 meg plastic floppies and they wouldn't even format.
I bought them by the hundreds.

I just formatted one and wrote some Seagate DOS disk diagnostics to it. Unfortunately the suspect drive is 2.5" and none of my laptops have floppy drives...

Had to find an ISO file to burn to CD and was able to find the bad sectors.
 

Glenn Holland

Joined Dec 26, 2014
705
I guess obsolete technology has its place.

Floppies are so outdated that cyber criminals don;t even bother with trying to hack 1990s technology.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
8,490
I guess obsolete technology has its place.

Floppies are so outdated that cyber criminals don;t even bother with trying to hack 1990s technology.
The authentication system for US nuclear forces is electronically unhackable. The actual messages can be in the clear over a cell phone or pony express but the authentication system for the content of messages is completely offline encrypted using manual systems with the SIOP as the target decoder.

 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
8,490
Imagining the unimaginable. "Don't worry citizens. We are fully prepared to protect you by rendering the whole planet uninhabitable."
Imagining and being ready to execute the unimaginable worked because it was so horrible. The hair trigger of the Cold War is over thanks to the men and woman who trained and were willing to pull the trigger for the unimaginable. Just be glad you never had even the remote possibility of being in the chain to trigger that event because even a small section of the SIOP target matrix would give a person nightmares.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,153
I'm not surprised they still have some floppies and drives around. I just recently sold off all that I had. But I'm a little perplexed if they actually use them for normal daily operations. I mean, what data could be on them that wouldn't be better stored on a thumb drive or other modern storage device? I guess you could have protocols to make up for the reliability issues and small capacity of the floppies. It just seems like the people responsible for these protocols would have suggested some improvements over the last 3 decades.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
8,490
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...-ancient-floppy-disks/?utm_term=.b83a0e4ec00a
As it happens, a similar logic underpins the U.S. military’s continued use of floppy disks. The fact that America’s nuclear forces are disconnected from digital networks actually acts as a buffer against hackers. As Maj. General Jack Weinstein told CBS’s “60 Minutes” in 2014:

Jack Weinstein: I'll tell you, those older systems provide us some -- I will say huge safety when it comes to some cyber issues that we currently have in the world.
Lesley Stahl: Now, explain that.
Weinstein: A few years ago we did a complete analysis of our entire network. Cyber engineers found out that the system is extremely safe and extremely secure on the way it's developed.
Stahl: Meaning that you're not up on the Internet kind of thing?
Weinstein: We're not up on the Internet.
Stahl: So did the cyber people recommend you keep it the way it is?
Weinstein: For right now, yes.
The Floppy system was not the online active system in 2014 and is not now the online active Strategic Automated Command and Control System.
It is one of several redundant fail-safe systems in hot-ready status. If they really wanted old school they would have stuck with paper tape.

 
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gdm_klog

Joined Feb 24, 2013
10
Oh, the irony of the BBC poking fun at '70s technology (slow news day?) when they are 94 years old themselves (sadly, still working).

Yesterday I was retuning / rescanning terrestial TV channels (some moved around yesterday PM in the UK) and there were 140+ channels found. The BBC provides just 7 of these, but we all have to pay GBP145.50 (~ USD190) each year even if we don't watch them.

Grrr....
 

Thread Starter

AlbertHall

Joined Jun 4, 2014
11,381
Oh, the irony of the BBC poking fun at '70s technology (slow news day?) when they are 94 years old themselves (sadly, still working).

Yesterday I was retuning / rescanning terrestial TV channels (some moved around yesterday PM in the UK) and there were 140+ channels found. The BBC provides just 7 of these, but we all have to pay GBP145.50 (~ USD190) each year even if we don't watch them.

Grrr....
But also you don't have to record the BBC programmes so you can skip through all the time wasting adverts.
 

Reloadron

Joined Jan 15, 2015
5,991
US nuclear force still uses floppy disks

This should come as no surprise to anyone intimately familiar with the US DoD (Department of Defense) or DoE (Department of Energy). The last 25 years of my career involved working with the US Navy Nuclear Propulsion Systems, Naval Reactors to be specific. It was like my young and early years as a US Marine where we claimed over 200 years of tradition unhampered by progress. Naval Reactors resisted change at about all cost and yes, we ran early Sperry and IBM systems and maintained them.

Decades ago Honeywell marketed a device called a "Visicorder" and a popular model was the Model 1858 Visicorder. Really a pretty cool system which recorded data. Sort of an oscillograph which used photo sensitive paper. Life was good right till the last manufacturer of the paper quit making the stuff. Keep in mind a single test required about 3 rolls of paper and the paper was up to $200 a roll. Getting NR to approve new recording methods was like a nightmare. There were dozens of great data loggers out there but change was some sort of evil and to be resisted at any cost. Yes, we also used 8" floppies as USB drives arrived in life. The story comes as no surprise to me. The visicorders were just one of many.... :)

Ron
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
26,398
I'm not surprised they still have some floppies and drives around. I just recently sold off all that I had. But I'm a little perplexed if they actually use them for normal daily operations. I mean, what data could be on them that wouldn't be better stored on a thumb drive or other modern storage device? I guess you could have protocols to make up for the reliability issues and small capacity of the floppies. It just seems like the people responsible for these protocols would have suggested some improvements over the last 3 decades.
One big part of the reason is that the newer the technology, the more susceptible it is to electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Modern storage devices and electronics are inherently far more susceptible to EMP than older technologies. It is much easier to shield old floppy drives and older computers than modern ones.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,153
One big part of the reason is that the newer the technology, the more susceptible it is to electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Modern storage devices and electronics are inherently far more susceptible to EMP than older technologies. It is much easier to shield old floppy drives and older computers than modern ones.
That's an argument for punch cards!

Unfortunately I threw my last punch cards - with my FORTRAN program on them - off the roof of my dorm. (That was more-or-less standard practice at the time.)
 
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