Lost Technology

[starbox]floppy disks

Writing this Fall Technical Meeting paper has me digging through old files for references I am certain are in there some where. Of course I am finding many things I had forgotten about and this is not helping me get things done in a timely manner.

Amongst the treasures unearthed was a box of 3.5 inch floppy disks and a few of the earlier 5.25 inch versions as well. Some of my younger readers may not have ever seen or used floppy disks but there was a time when they were the cutting edge of computer technology. For engineers of a certain age, our first “network” was the “sneaker network,” as in lace up your shoes and run this disk over to NC programming or accounting.

Anyway, I have several boxes of 3.5 inch floppy disks I can’t bring myself to discard. The programs that used them are around somewhere and, who knows, if the zombie apocalypse really happens I may be the only guy left who can still boot up a 2-D CAD program. My secret weapon? A portable floppy disk drive!

And just to prove it still works I provide today’s special diversion: a Gear Technology word search. These came in very handy back in the day while waiting for the sneaker network to respond. We’ll publish the solution in a later posting.

Gear Word Search

About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.


  1. The lost technology is the new and young design engineers have not designed gears with non-computer (hand calculations) ; therefore, they do not understand the methodology and/or principles used for computer software. I am working with many young design engineers that do not ask the proper questions about gear design requirements and have little or no material heat treatment knowledge. Also, most have little or no manufacturing experiences. One can not correctly design gears if they do not know the process and the method of manufacturing and material and heat treatment

  2. My portable floppy drive plugs into a port on my Windows XP laptop. I will have to see if it works on anything with a later operating system.
    There are several Gear Technology advertisers who specialize in retrofitting older NC machines with newer control systems.

  3. Dear Mr. Schultz,

    well, I have also several hundreds of 3.5″ diskettes and and a few 5.25″ floppy ones as well. The problem is that the programs on them are not running on MS Windows above XP. So I have an old computer with Windows 2000 to run them. Some of the are aid programs for the design of gears, back to the sixties. Same applies for old tool machines as well. I know a company in Austria still utilizing their Swiss multi-spindle cam controlled lathes. The cams are designed by CAD and wire EDM cut. He said, sometimes simpler than write and debug a CNC program. The machines are write-off, therefore inexpensive. Their number is declining due to cannibal maintainance. Another company I know uses mechanical Pfauter machines with change gears. The gear combinations are computed by a laptop and put on in a lapse of time. The old machines are so sturdy that you cannot kill them. Some electronics like digital readout displays are added, however. They also claim high commercial utilization.

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