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Science & Technology

Hail To The Floppy Disk: Your Tired Tech That Keeps Ticking

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We asked recently how do you know when it's time to replace your computer rather than repair it. I put that question to Glenn Derene, electronics editor at Consumer Reports.

GLENN DERENE: If you're talking three to five years, then it's kind of in a bit of a gray area. And you really should - you might want to consider repairing it, but you also should really also take a look at what it would cost to replace it, how much you paid initially, so on and so forth. After five years, it's almost a no-brainer. Just get rid of it and get a new one.

SIEGEL: Five years. As it turns out, many of you laugh in the face of that number. We asked on our ATC Facebook page this question - dear Luddites, we mean it kindly. Do you have an ancient computer that still gets regular use? Well, Jim Maddie (ph) wrote in with this.

SIEGEL: (Reading) Just heard Consumer Reports' suggestion to replace computer after five years - false. My 2008 MacBook Pro is still working like the day I took it home. Upgraded to 500 gigabyte hard drive, added more RAM and is perfect, as designed.

John Verar (ph) says his wife has that beat. She still uses a 10-year-old Compaq Presario for her bookkeeping and Internet access. And he wrote this - remember when there were progress instead of apps? Well, she doesn't know what she'll do when she has to move from MS Money - a program that hasn't been supported in several years. I've finally gotten her to use a smart phone. Could a tablet be the next bold step?

Doug Kimmel though takes the prize for going super old-school. He wrote this - my RadioShack Model II computer bought in 1981 works perfectly. I use it for my confidential client records. And since all the data is on eight-inch floppy disks in Scripsit, I'm pretty sure it's very secure. Well, Mr. Kimmel, as long as you keep those floppies away from magnets and heat and children, then yes, they are perhaps secure. Scripsit, by the way, is a word processing program. And Kimmel also wrote that his daisy wheel printer bought the same year still functions perfectly.

And we end with this comments from Annette McMenamin-Bakely. She noted the irony of using a social network for this particular callout. Hate to be picky here, Bakley wrote, but no Luddite worth her salt is on Facebook. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.