America’s Nuclear Arsenal Still Relies on Floppy Disks

CommanderFrank

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This bit of information will undoubtedly make you sleep soundly tonight. According to a news report from 60 Minutes the nation’s entire arsenal of nuclear missiles, silos and missile sites are being controlled by computers made in the 60’s running on floppy disks. It’s not forgotten technology at all, the equipment is there by design.:eek:
 

GotNoRice

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The key being that just because it's old doesn't mean it's automatically not up to the job. It's much easier to enforce an "air gap" with systems like these than with systems where any random tard might end up plugging his phone into a random USB port, etc.

It's also a lot harder to steal data when you're talking about a handful of text files per floppy disk, compared to ~15 seconds and you just copied hundreds of gigs onto a flash drive, etc.
 

overclock

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Security through obscurity. After Stuxnet I don't have a problem with them using floppy disks.
 

collegeboy69us

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some of the old gear is far more reliable than we could ever imagine.

Hell, most of us have NES systems from the 80's that play just like the day they were opened. Stuff as just built better back then. vs these days when 6 months after you open the box it's obsolete.
 

CreepyUncleGoogle

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It's also a lot harder to steal data when you're talking about a handful of text files per floppy disk, compared to ~15 seconds and you just copied hundreds of gigs onto a flash drive, etc.

I want whatever thumb drives and USB ports you're using if they can copy hundreds of of gigs stuff in 15 seconds. :eek:
 

Megalith

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Give me the floppy and I will have the President grant you full immunity.
 

GaryJohnson

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some of the old gear is far more reliable than we could ever imagine.

Hell, most of us have NES systems from the 80's that play just like the day they were opened. Stuff as just built better back then. vs these days when 6 months after you open the box it's obsolete.

Are you kidding me? I had an NES in the 80s. They were sketchy as hell. You had to blow on the cart contacts to clear the dust off and reinsert them over and over again to get them to load.
 
D

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Aren't most of the Nuclear Plants in the US also still run on analog switches/technology? It's mostly because it's a proven technology that works, why fix what's not broke?
 

Thuleman

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It's old technology because there's no point in spending money to modernize it. None of the nuclear powers has any interest in launching a nuclear war, so all nuclear powers are only doing the absolute minimum to still appear scary.
 

Yakk

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Hmm, Russian space program still relies on older tech, and.. WOW it still works! Imagine that, they can still reach the space station!

Floppies work, better than connecting nuclear sites to the net, nuff said...
 

collegeboy69us

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Are you kidding me? I had an NES in the 80s. They were sketchy as hell. You had to blow on the cart contacts to clear the dust off and reinsert them over and over again to get them to load.

Still -- it powered up and worked. The issue of "cartridge blowing" was just because the contacts of the cartridge itself didn't make great contact. That's nothing compared to cpu's frying themselves due to cheap solder, hard drives dying because of age, and all the other crap that has plagued "modern" gadgets. They aren't made to last because they WANT you to throw it away after 6 months (extreme example taken from apples play book)


My point was that the processor/memory/functionality of the device is solid as a rock. Can't say the same for Xbox 360's, or PS4's.

It's old, it's clunky, and it's slow, but it always worked :)
 

jedijeb

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Still -- it powered up and worked. The issue of "cartridge blowing" was just because the contacts of the cartridge itself didn't make great contact. That's nothing compared to cpu's frying themselves due to cheap solder, hard drives dying because of age, and all the other crap that has plagued "modern" gadgets. They aren't made to last because they WANT you to throw it away after 6 months (extreme example taken from apples play book)


My point was that the processor/memory/functionality of the device is solid as a rock. Can't say the same for Xbox 360's, or PS4's.

It's old, it's clunky, and it's slow, but it always worked :)

If you crack open one of those old cartridges you will see who used the blowing technique and who used the proper technique of cleaning the contacts with alcohol and a swab. The ones blown on will have all kinds of stuff growing inside :eek:
 

Phoenix333

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Piston engines were designed prior to the 20th century, and they're still in use, despite the invention of the turbine, rotary combustion engine, electric motors, and fuel cells. Analog "land line" telephones are more reliable and sound clearer than cell phones and voice over IP. Guerrillas, freedom fighters, terrorists, and other irregular forces use a certain Soviet designed rifle that's been around since 1947... some of them 50+ years old and still functioning despite abuse, poor maintenance, and tens of thousands of rounds.

Just because something is old doesn't mean it doesn't work. A well designed machine is no more complex than it has to be, and if it's designed from the start to be extremely reliable that only helps things. I have no problem with nukes being controlled by older, analog systems. Systems from that era got astronauts to the moon and back. I would be a lot more concerned if the missiles were on computers connected to the net. It's bad enough we have to worry about insane Jihadis in Iran trying to make a bomb. Imagine if some script kiddie were able to start a nuclear war with existing bombs? I'd rather not.
 

Paul Ed

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My 1984 Dgital Equipment Rainbow 100A came with only 2, 400 K, single sided, quad density, Floppys runing DEC DOS 1.1, or you could select a boot to CPM (a DOS competitor, that didn't become popular), or a Terminal Mode, which emulated a DEC 100 Terminal, for use on main frames.
Later, I paid almost $1,000.00 for huge (by modern standards) 5 Megabyte Hard Drive (making it a 100B now), which I had to install myself, that was later replaced with a Seagate 20 Meg. HD, running DOS 3.0.
It's still running, at least the last time I fired it UP.

However, the Military's Floppy disk looked like the old original 8' ones, rather than the 51/4' commercial ones most of us used later?
 
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They are still using those machines because they still work and it would cost millions to upgrade them. I wouldn't want my government waisting my money replacing equipment just because it is "old." The company that I support still has equipment that uses floppies but it would cost millions per machine to upgrade as it is testing equipment. It just doesn't make business since to replace these machines.
 

Obi_Kwiet

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[21CW]killerofall;1040809415 said:
They are still using those machines because they still work and it would cost millions to upgrade them. I wouldn't want my government waisting my money replacing equipment just because it is "old." The company that I support still has equipment that uses floppies but it would cost millions per machine to upgrade as it is testing equipment. It just doesn't make business since to replace these machines.

You misunderstand why it would be so expensive to replace this stuff. It is massively expensive to keep really old equipment running because there's a constant process of finding increasingly rare replacements for broken parts, or churning thorough the bureaucracy required to authorize an acceptable substitute. Paying tens of thousands for an obsolete switch or connector, because it's one of the last in the world is common place.

The trouble is that to replace anything with better, more reliable new designs is incredibly expensive due to the massively bureaucratic review and approval process. Which I could understand, if it were actual design review, instead of a series of bottle necks that involve ignorant people asking redundant, pedantic questions and lots of ass covering.
 

Ducman69

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Piston engines were designed prior to the 20th century, and they're still in use,
Its stupid to use a specific piston engine design from prior to the 20th century for which replacement parts are no longer manufactured. The piston engine designs available today are vastly superior in every measurable way, and at low cost due to economy of scale.

I completely understand the desire to keep the nukes un-networked, but that doesn't mean that you have to use computers from the 1960s, which is bafflingly idiotic.

You and I know very well that the reason this isn't replaced is because no one wants to be responsible for approving replacement hardware for such a critical system. Its all about the red tape and the technical incompetence of the vast government wing responsible for its upkeep, and its far simpler to continue the status quo even if it means spending $50K to buy five of some old part out of production for 50 years and simply say "hey that's how much it costs" than to rock the boat and suggest a complete overhaul.
 

Ducman69

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My point was that the processor/memory/functionality of the device is solid as a rock. Can't say the same for Xbox 360's, or PS4's.

It's old, it's clunky, and it's slow, but it always worked :)
We have modern overengineered equipment that sacrifices performance for ultimate redundancy or is just designed for higher reliability like ECC ram, so there really is no excuse.

360s were trying to get the maximum performance possible a full decade after it was released at a really low pricepoint. Its kind of like saying that because even modern Ferraris have questionable reliability, you should use a Ford Model T.
 

Farkle

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Older the equipment, less chance of it frying due to alpha particles. There is wisdom in spaced logic circuitry.

I have to wonder though, why floppies? Why not tapes?
 

jojo69

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Older the equipment, less chance of it frying due to alpha particles. There is wisdom in spaced logic circuitry.

I have to wonder though, why floppies? Why not tapes?

fuck, why not punch cards?

Seriously, the thought of ICBMs controlled by modern technology is one of the more frightening thoughts I have had recently.
 

Ducman69

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Alpha particles? If you're talking about an EMP, the craps underground and you can shield modern equipment too.

If this also has an OS from the 60s, I have to wonder what happens when the geezers that know the details of how everything works keel over?

I can already see they try to launch a nuke and nothing happens, then they have to wake up grandpa and he tells them to just copy the data over to another floppy since the thirty year old one degraded, and two and a half hours later they try again and get a PC Load Letter error and the entire North American continent is already destroyed in a nuclear holocaust.
 

N4CR

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Still -- it powered up and worked. The issue of "cartridge blowing" was just because the contacts of the cartridge itself didn't make great contact. That's nothing compared to cpu's frying themselves due to cheap solder, hard drives dying because of age, and all the other crap that has plagued "modern" gadgets. They aren't made to last because they WANT you to throw it away after 6 months (extreme example taken from apples play book)


My point was that the processor/memory/functionality of the device is solid as a rock. Can't say the same for Xbox 360's, or PS4's.

It's old, it's clunky, and it's slow, but it always worked :)

With a lower power density, reliability is much easier to achieve.
This can be also seen with stationary engines, ship engines etc.
 

drakken

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So the floppies are all from the initial testing batch since you could not buy 8 inch floppies until 1971... 5.25 came later and 3.5 were the last ones, so what floppy disks are we talking about. Most systems from the 60's use magnetic tape like you see in a reel to reel system for playing music and movies.

But either of the magnetic systems fail over time, the particles weaken their connection to the plastic, the disks build up increasing friction and they wear out. The tape stretches and wears out.

The thing that would not surprise me is if the only thing stored on those disks are the codes... which no one uses... but anyone who has actually seen the inside of one of these systems is under so many national security directives that we will never get the truth.

As far as the tech lasting longer, when you only have single layer boards there are less mistakes and they are fixed easier.
 
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