TECH

So The U.S. Nuclear Computers Still Need Floppy Disks...

Gulp.

26/05/2016 15:52
ASSOCIATED PRESS

A recent audit has found that a rather crucial part of the U.S. Defense Department's computer infrastructure still runs off floppy disks.

That's right, floppy disks, those enormous plastic things that can hold 1.2MB which, by the way, isn't even enough space to hold a picture taken by your iPhone.

Digital Vision.

So that might sound bad but don't worry, it gets much worse. You see these floppy disks aren't being used for some old redundant air conditioning system or the computer that controls the vending machines in the Pentagon.

No, this 1976 IBM Series/1 computer system "Coordinates the operational functions of the United States’ nuclear forces, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers, and tanker support aircrafts."

Science & Society Picture Library via Getty Images

Yup, that's right, the nukes. The U.S. Defense Department are using floppy disks to store the codes for the nukes.

Look we all have a friend like this. 

That one person who refuses to update their phone and stubbornly rejects the 21st Century by using a Nokia 3310 until eventually they realise they can't get Google on it.

Well it looks like the U.S. Defense Department is just like one of those friends, except they happen to have entrusted the nuclear codes of America to a computer system that makes Windows 95 look positively space-age.

Stephen Boyd
There are still billions of lines of computer code that are written in COBOL.

Things aren't much better over at the Department of Justice either which was found to be using an IBM mainframe system that used a programming language first developed in the 50s. 

You remember the 50s, it was when Jon Hamm was drinking whisky with a straw and everyone thought refrigerators were the second coming.

Before you go and find the nearest bag to put over your head though don't panic, there are, in fact, some advantages to be gained here.

For starters you try hacking a floppy disk. Can't be done. Secondly the DoD promises that it's going to start updating the entire system, only thing is it's not going to be ready until the end of next year.

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