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ACU to retire floppy drives, adopt flash drives

For immediate release
Aug. 12, 2003

Starting this fall, Abilene Christian University will be encouraging students and employees to use a new tool in computer labs -- flash drives.

Officially called a USB Flash Memory Drive, these devices can store up to 1,400 times more data than a floppy disk and are roughly the size of a thumb, said George Saltsman, director of educational technology.

"This is the beginning of the end for the floppy disk," Saltsman said. "Floppy disks have been our number one support problem in labs, and the time has come to retire this technology icon."

Of course, the loss of an icon is rarely easy.

"Eliminating the use of such a widely used format like the floppy will not be with out some questioning," Saltsman said. "Apple Computer faced those same questions with the introduction of the floppy-less iMac in 1998, but they have been quite successful, and I anticipate we will be too. What we have to replace the floppy is even cooler than the iMac was. You can attach this tiny flash drive to your keychain and carry your data with you everywhere you go."

In fact, the devices also include high tech fashion accessories -- a neckband that allows the user to wear the drive around their neck.

The ACU USB Flash Drive is a Plug and Play device. Users simply plug into any USB port (Mac or Windows) and the computer will automatically detect it as a removable hard drive with no formatting needed. Users can read, write, copy, delete, and move data from the hard disk drive back and forth to the USB Flash Drive. Students and employees alike will be able to move data between their office, home, labs and classroom computers with ease, Saltsman said.

ACU purchased 750 flash drive docking stations, which will be placed in all public labs and technology-enabled classrooms. The ACU Campus Store will have a wide range of sizes available at all price points for students and faculty to purchase, and the first 200 full-time faculty who attend a training session at the Adams Center will receive a 64MB USB Flash Drive free so that they can become accustomed with their usage.

"I felt that if we wanted faculty to recommend these devices to students, they needed to be familiar with them," Saltsman said.

ACU Information Services conducted an extensive test of multiple USB Flash Drives during the summer. Test subjects returned overwhelmingly positive experiences in using the USB Flash Drive. The model ACU selected was rated the highest at the conclusion of that test based on compatibility, convenience, and price.

Flash Drive Quick Facts

  • Floppy disks have a high failure rate. Student and employee computer support teams attempted to recover data from more than one hundred bad floppies last year. In most cases, the data on those disks was lost forever.
  • Flash drives are Windows ME/2000/XP and Apple Mac OS 8.6, 9, and OS X compatible. Windows 98 requires a driver (included on CD). A driver is available for Linux Redhat 7 & SuSe 7.1 They are also USB 1.1 and 2.0 compatible
  • Each Zip drive costs ACU around $100 to purchase. A USB Flash Drive Docking Station is less than $5. ACU was able to place USB docking stations on all 750 public lab computers for less than the cost of putting Zip drives in one small lab.
  • Purchasing computers that the computer industry has dubbed as "legacy free" are less expensive than computers that must support obsolete technology. After phasing out floppy drives, ACU will see significant savings in computer purchases each year.
  • Flash drives are small (about the size of your thumb), lightweight (21 grams), and portable.
  • Test results showed that the Flash drive could read 512MBs Data in just 1m 13sec.
  • Flash drives contain a write/delete protection switch.
  • Flash disks can be used with the included neckband or with the attached key ring connector.


If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Wendy Kilmer, media relations coordinator.

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