US Nuclear Force Still Using IBM Series 1 Computer And Floppy DIsks

Floppy DIsks

The systems responsible for command and control of the U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles that carry nuclear warheads today have been doing that job since the 1970s.

According to a recent report, they’re IBM Series/1 machines — a 16-bit beast the company rolled out back in 1976. Here’s a sweet photo of them from Wikipedia:

 IBM Series 1

The Pentagon also still needs floppy disks to keep things running. And not those newfangled 3.5-inch doohickies either. Floppy disks that are actually floppy, like the 5.25 and 8-inch ones.

Floppy DIsks

This doesn’t come as a complete shock, of course. Things can move at a snail’s pace in Washington — and the more important the thing, the longer it takes to make any sort of change. You’ve got to think that the military minds who are in charge of the Strategic Automated Command and Control System are extremely reluctant to make any sort of changes to it.

“This system remains in use because, in short, it still works,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson told the AFP.

The Office of Management and Budget has launched an initiative to replace old IT systems, but it has not yet been finalized. Until it’s put into place, the report says, “the government runs the risk of maintaining systems that have outlived their effectiveness.”

 

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