With a mere 1.44 MB of storage space, the 3.5-inch diskette, colloquially called the floppy disk, has no slot today when storage space range has grown a thousand times. Pen-drives rewrote the floppy story.

Emerging markets such as India kept the floppy alive. Having revolutionised the storage space here since the late 1980s, the floppy disk’s time is finally up.

The last of the floppy-makers in India (perhaps the world), Amkette, has closed its lone manufacturing unit at Udaipur (Rajasthan) as it shifts focus to computer peripherals and digital lifestyle solutions. Strangely, the last floppy sales were recorded in January.

“We took a conscious decision to close the unit. Business was not good. The facility will now be used as our research and development centre and India logistics unit,” Rajiv Bapna, Director, Amkette, told Business Line . The last global biggie to stop floppy manufacturing was Sony, in 2011.

Last Sales

Delhi-headquartered Amkette, established in 1986, had been one of the home-grown companies that had challenged the dominance of global-majors such as Sony and TDK in the floppy market, in India and abroad.

According to Bapna, the last batch of 1.2 lakh floppies was sold in January.

Each floppy was priced at Rs 10 (about half the price they sold for in the 1990s). Barring a slump in price in 2008-09 (to Rs 7), floppies have commanded more or less a stable price of Rs 10 a piece. Quite obviously, the Tier III and IV markets — where computers still have a floppy drive — saw uptake. Amkette officials said that Amritsar (Punjab), Aligarh (UP) and Hooghly (West Bengal) were some areas that saw floppy sales.

“Perhaps co-operative societies, computer training schools and banks use floppies. But we aren’t very sure,” an Amkette official said.

During its heyday Amkette (banking on floppy sales) recorded a turnover of nearly Rs 300 crore. The Udaipur unit’s production capacity stood at 30 million pieces a day.

The Floppy Days

Floppies too had an evolution. They began as 8-inch disks, became 5.5 inches and ended up at 3.5 inch. Storage space remained a problem.

“The technology changed with the advent of pen-drives,” Bapna added. The death-knell rang in 2003 when PC-makers dropped the floppy drive from the system.

> abhishek.l@thehindu.co.in