Discover how 1980s Floppy Disks Still Control San Francisco’s Transport

Imagine a world where critical metropolitan transportation systems are still powered by floppy disks from the 1980s. That's not a fabricated dystopian-future movie scenario, but the actual case in San Francisco.

San Francisco’s Unusual Legacy Tech: Floppy Disks

The local transportation network of San Francisco, the SFMTA, keeps their trains and metros running with a system that depends on 5.25 inch floppy disks. This legacy tech has been in continuous use since its installation in 1998, a remarkable 26 years ago. It's incredible to think that these systems were designed with a maximum lifespan of 25 years, yet here they are, exceeding their anticipated expiration date.

Daily Dependence on Floppy Disks

Every single day, SFMTA staff perform the slightly antiquated task of loading instructions onto these floppy disks. This information is vital for the correct operation of the city's trains. One of the critical dependencies is the control system for the Market Street metro, which leans heavily on these decades-old data storage devices.

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Integrated Upgrade Plans

Recognizing the urgent need for modernization, SFMTA has initiated plans to overhaul this outmoded system. They've set in motion an ambitious project to replace the floppy disk-driven control systems with a wireless solution. This is no small undertaking. The end goal is to phase out the use of floppy disks entirely.

It's worth noting that this upgrade is not a quick fix. The transition could span a considerable duration of up to ten years and ring up a bill in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Future of SFMTA’s Control Systems

Once this mammoth project reaches completion, operators in control rooms will be able to monitor train operations far more easily. They'll have an autopilot assistance system at their disposal, replacing the aging floppy disk . This major shift will not only modernize the process but also drastically improve efficiency in managing the city's critical transportation systems.

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