A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has revealed that the Pentagon was still using 1970s-era computing systems that require “Eight-inch floppy Disks” to run its nuclear programme.
The report revealed that such disks were already becoming obsolete by the end of that decade, being edged out by smaller, non-floppy 3.5 to 5.25-inch disks, before being almost completely replaced by the CD in the late 90s.
The GAO report says that U.S. government departments spend upwards of $60 billion a year on operating and maintaining these out-of-date technologies.
The report says the Pentagon is planning to replace its floppy systems, which currently coordinate Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), nuclear bombers and tanker support aircraft by the end of 2017.
Other departments were also put on notice to update their systems. The U.S. Treasury for example, still depends on assembly language code “initially used in the 1950s”. Bringing government departments into the 21st century has proven difficult across the board.
Megan Smith, the current U.S. Chief Technology Officer told the New York Times in 2015 of the “culture shock” experienced by the tech-savvy Obama campaign when they took control of a White House still dependent on floppy disks and Blackberrys.