Since the invention of USB drives and hard disks that can store huge amounts of digital information, floppy disks have largely been forgotten by most computer users. The now obsolete disks, however, were once a vital and indispensable tool for computer users not too long ago.
Floppy disks were first invented in the late 1960s and were first sold in the early 1970s. These disks were about 8 inches in diameter. By the late 1970s, these disks had been improved upon by other companies and the first five and a quarter inch disk was manufactured and put on the market. Information was stored on a rotating magnetic disk inside of a rectangular plastic jacket. The disks could keep information on both sides and users would usually need to turn over and reinsert the disk in a disk slot in order to get at this data.
In the early 1980s, the three and a half inch floppy took over as the disk of choice for most computer users. Not only were these disks smaller than the big five and a quarter inch disk, but they could also store much more information. One side of the new disks could store 720 kilobytes of information compared to the 360 kilobytes capacity of the five and a half inch disk. Like its predecessor, the three and a half inch floppy disk could store data on both sides, leading to a 1.44 megabyte storage capability.
The development of new technology such as high capacity hard drives, USB flash drives, and CD-ROMs, has rendered floppy disks obsolete. Sony announced in 2011 that they will stop making floppy disks. In Europe, the last floppy disk was sold in March, 2010. The floppy disk was once a standard computer item but it has since been abandoned.