If you need a floppy disk, Tom Persky is your guy. "Over time, the total number of floppy users has gone down," he says. "However, the number of people who provided the product went down even faster. If you look at those two curves, you see that there is a growing market share for the last man standing in the business, and that man is me."
In this interview conducted by the authors of the book, Floppy Disk Fever, Persky talks about the present and future of a storage medium that refuses to become obsolete.
Persky's wife bought the floppydisk.com domain name for $1,000 in the 1990s, against Persky's wishes at first. This turned out to be a smart business decision.
Persky explains how the manufacturing process for floppies is very complex, requiring 9 different components to be produced. It would be extremely difficult and expensive to retool a factory for floppy production now.
They have a half million floppies in their inventory. "We carry all the different flavors: 3.5-inch, 5.25-inch, 8-inch, and some rather rare diskettes." The 1.44 MB, 3.5-inch blank floppy disk is in the highest demand.
They invite people to send in their old floppies rather than throw them away. "The sheer volume of floppy disks we get in has really surprised me, it's sometimes a 1,000 disks a day." The last time Persky bought floppies from a manufacturer was 12 years ago, "and we've basically been living off of that inventory ever since."
The main customers are industrial users "who use floppy disks as a way to get information in and out of a machine." This includes the airline industry and medical facilities. "The biggest customer of all is probably the embroidery business though. Thousands and thousands of machines that use floppy disks were made for this, and they still use these." They also sell disks to hobbyists.