SF’s Market Street Subway runs on Floppy Disks #Transportation #Floppy @sfstandard

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency is using rather outdated technology for crucial operations: 5.25-inch floppy disks.

“Our train control system in the Market Street subway is loaded off of five-and-a-quarter inch floppy drives,” SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin told KQED’s Priya David Clemens this week.

Reached for comment, SFMTA spokesperson Stephen Chun acknowledged that the Automatic Train Control System relied on aging equipment.

“We recognize that any failure of the outdated equipment is certain to impact everyone working on or riding Muni,” Chun told The Standard. “Fortunately, our crew makes the difference between these failures crippling the system for weeks or for just a few hours.”

The use of floppies is hardly some previously unknown fact; for starters, Tumlin explicitly told KQED that his agency has to retain staff with skills honed to what amounts to the programming equivalent of Ancient Babylonian.

But Twitter users on Thursday expressed surprise that a city known as a global tech capital would be so reliant on a storage format that lacks the capacity to store a single hi-resolution photograph.

See more from the San Francisco Standard and jwz.org.


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