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3.5-inch floppy disks are not produced anymore, with I think Sony being the last to stop manufacturing in March 2011. Meaning that all floppy disks that exist are currently in circulation and the supply won't grow but only decrease over time as floppies degrade and fail.

I am not sure who the leading manufacturers were but did they publish data about this? Or is there any estimate available of amount of 3.5-inch floppies that were produced in the world?

This is probably an impossible question to answer but I couldn't find an answer and I'd like to find an educated estimate at least.

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    Looking in my old computer stuff cabinet, I think 3.5-inch floppies reproduce on their own - sure seem to be more than I remember in there...
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 17 at 14:49
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    The article pcworld.com/article/512363/article-4108.html also gives a small hint about the volume. 2010 the domestic Japanese market was about 12 million disks. We will probably talk about 10⁹ or even 10¹0 disks per year during the years when 3.5 floppies were the thing.
    – UncleBod
    Jan 17 at 15:08
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    @Bob Ortiz - I think that probably falls into the "unanswerable" column. I was looking for some floppies for work (we still use a few), but I couldn't find a vendor with good enough ratings for the offerings (to be fair, I only looked at a few) and I would note that subjective ratings on floppies don't rule out possible issues with older drives. Jan 17 at 15:21
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    I’m voting to close this question because 3.5" floppies are still being produced, so (a) the answer will change daily and (b) since they are still being produced, 3.5" floppies are arguably not Retrocomputing. Jan 18 at 0:43
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    There's one company who would know. AOL. 3/4 of all floppy production went to them. Jan 18 at 2:56

1 Answer 1

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To my understanding Taiwanese CMC still produces 3.5 inch diskettes in PRC.

By now they seem to be the last major supplier. They became the biggest supplier of diskettes already in the 1990s, doing production for most brands from Maxwell to Verbatim, later they also acquired many (former) famous brand names (including Verbatim). They did (and still do) the same for optical media.

Their strategy seems to be to continue supporting floppy and CD/etc. as long as there are buyers. After all, why give up a business if there's still money to earn with no new investment needed.

Companies like AWP still sell 3.5er by the box (250 box that is :))

Meaning that all floppy disks [...] only decrease over time as floppies degrade and fail.

Well, sure, everything is will fade eventually - and most things way before the sun goes red giant. At the same time it's not as fast as people might believe. FD have, well stored, a shelf life of many decades. I routinely use floppies 30+ years old without much hassles. In fact, I remember way more bad diskettes around 1980 than today,but that might be more due the cheap ass me buying only the lowest priced ones. Everything past mid 1980s, and especially 3.5 after mid 1990s is quite reliable even 30-50 years later. Of course, this is just anecdotal, YMMV.

Damage is mostly to storage. I've taken 5.25 collections stored in dry attics in mild climate for 40 years and each and every diskette worked, while others stored in some garage in Florida were already falling apart after barely more than 20 years. and falling apart is to be taken literally here. Not just rust at metal parts, but magnetic surface sliding away from carrier film.

Diskettes are stored at moderate temperature and shrink wrapped (or at average humidity), will serve us for decades to come. No need to worry.

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    I wish I knew that when I decided to store my amiga originals in a garage that was slightly flooded, in the south of France (not exacly Guiana)... the moisture killed 30% of the disks, even if they were in a posso box, in a drawer... Jan 17 at 20:15
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    +1 then later realized "not an answer to the actual question" then "can't truly answer because still being produced according to your answer", therefore VTC. Jan 18 at 0:44
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact Somehow I never can make it right. this time I avoided to argue that there is (to my knowledge) no answer, and again it some how doesn't fit expectation :(
    – Raffzahn
    Jan 18 at 2:35
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    It's relevant to the question to know that some disks are still being made. However, I imagine that the quantity produced per year currently is a very small proportion of the total quantity produced until now. So it would still make sense to estimate the total that have been produced until this point, I doubt that any such estimates would be accurate to within the amount currently produced by Taiwanese CMC in a year
    – Joe
    Jan 18 at 20:48
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    @DarrelHoffman I agree, as soon as you point out some Hollywood factory producing several hundred Model T per year on original production lines. Can you?
    – Raffzahn
    Jan 18 at 21:17

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