Personal Technology – From Floppy to CD, DVD to USB Drive – Quick Note on Evolution of Personal Storage Device

Recently I was cleaning my house – clearing out old books and computer junk that I’ve been storing for a long time, when I found a box of floppy disks.  I was filled with nostalgia.  There was a time when I used floppy disks for everything – games, images, and so many backups!  I am the type of guy who is always thinking of backups, and floppies had a tendency to fail, so I always made backups of my backups.  Now here I was, holding all these useless floppy disks, and thinking of how the world has changed.

I hardly even see anyone with a floppy disk recently, let alone a computer with a floppy drive.  These floppy disks would only hold 1.44 MB, and I started remembering how I had to use a computer program called ZipDivider.  If you had a program or file that was larger that 1.44 MB, say 6 MB for example, you would need to use this program to divide it up into 1.44 MB chunks to fit on multiple floppy disks.  Then the other user would have to download all these files into a folder on their own computer, and starts zipping the files back together with another program.  This was an interesting experience, and a quick way to learn that you cannot damage even one floppy disk, or you would not be able to put together the file!

I was thinking about all these nostalgic programs when my daughter walked into the room.  She is four years old, and she had no idea what I was holding in my hand.  She asked me, “Why do you have a save button in your hand?”  She saw this floppy drive, and all she saw was an icon for the save function, the same way a bluebird represents Twitter, or a blue “F” represents Facebook.  I tried to explain to my daughter what a floppy disk is, that we used to use it as storage, and she just laughed and said “no, no, no, you store data on a USB drive!”  At this moment, I was speechless – because she is right!

At this point, my wife came in the room to tell me that she needed an mp3 burned onto a CD for a dance program at my daughter’s school – every student is performing a dance, and the school has old computers that need the music on a CD to play for the program.  I looked around and realized – my laptop does not have a CD drive, my servers don’t have CD drives, my desktop computer has a CD drive, but it doesn’t work!  I never installed the drivers to make it work.  So I spent some time downloading the drivers and CD writing software, only to realize that the program is not compatible with Windows 8.1.  I had to walk through our apartment building knocking on doors, and almost everyone said they didn’t have a CD driver, and didn’t even know how to use one!  Finally, our apartment manager answered his door – he is an older man, with an older computer.  After begging, pleading, and many thanks, he agreed to burn the mp3 to a CD for my daughter.

The world is changing so fast, it is like the ground is moving underneath us while we are still walking.  A floppy disk is just a save button, and no one knows about CD or DVD drivers!  We all use USB thumb drives and “cloud” storage like Dropbox.  So here is my question, and it is one I do not have the answer to: what is next now?  How will we communicate six weeks, six months, or six years from now?  How will we exchange files?  Will we even need to exchange files?  What is the next big thing?

Reference: Pinal Dave (http://blog.sqlauthority.com)