US Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems Use Data From Floppy Disks! |

US Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems Use Data From Floppy Disks!

And the US Pentagon is quite cool about that — for now


The BBC recently reported that the US nuclear weapons force uses floppy disks. Not just floppy disks, but 8-inch floppy disks — the kind you’ve most likely never seen. In fact, they use entire systems straight out of the 1970s. “Federal Agencies Need to Address Aging Legacy Systems,” the report goes. It says said that the systems that co-ordinate intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers and such run on an IBM Series-1 Computer, which was discontinued in 1988.

Several US Government departments still use legacy systems, the report reveals — including the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice. They even use 1950s-style code: The US treasury uses assembly language on its systems.

What’s going to upset the American public about this, though, is that US taxpayers spend $61 billion a year on the maintenance of old technologies — and in contrast, investment on contemporary IT stands at less than $20 billion.

A US Pentagon spokeswoman said that they use the old systems because “in short, it still works,” adding that “to address obsolescence concerns, the floppy drives are scheduled to be replaced with secure digital devices by the end of 2017” — and that they are planning to replace the system entirely by 2020.

Amazing stuff, considering that NASA has had a “High-End Computing Program” for some time now. I checked what systems they had there to see if they were competing with the Pentagon in terms of staying with what works — and they’re not.


TAGS: floppy disks, Ballistic Missile Systems