In 2014, “60 Minutes” made famous the 8-inch floppy disks used by one antiquated Air Force computer system that, in a crisis, could receive an order from the president to launch nuclear missiles from silos across the United States.
But no more. At long last, that system, the Strategic Automated Command and Control System or SACCS, has dumped the floppy disk, moving to a “highly-secure solid state digital storage solution” this past June, said Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force’s 595th Strategic Communications Squadron.
These are incredibly difficult systems to upgrade, so this is no small feat.
Actually I imagine the contrary is true,: it’s likely easier to upgrade than to continue maintaining the legacy components. The article alluded to some of these reasons. OEMs no longer support the original computers, replacement components are no longer available, media is no longer available. These old computers require regular repairs. Engineers and technicians with incredibly niche skills are needed for maintenance and operation. While modern components are often not field repairable, they are laughably cheap and much easier to work with. All of the computing power from that era combined have less power than a single mobile phone today. Granted that’s just an example of how far we’ve come, and clearly computing power isn’t all that matters to the mission, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the original systems are rather deficient in areas of crypto at least by modern standards.
Not to mention the most obvious problem of all: how the hell are HAL 9000 and Skynet going to run on floppy disks?