Global warming, mass shootings, terrorism, the very real possibility of Donald Trump becoming President. Just in case there wasn’t already enough to keep you up at night, here’s one more: we just learned that the US military’s nuclear arsenal runs on ’70s-era floppy disks.
That’s right, the only thing standing between the world and accidental nuclear annihilation are a set of computers that are more outdated than your grandparents’ ancient desktop. Sweet dreams, everyone!
According to a recent report by the US Government Accountability Office, the system responsible for coordinating the American military’s nuclear forces, bombers and intercontinental missiles runs on “an IBM Series-1 Computer — a 1970s computing system — and uses eight-inch floppy disks.” There’s still no word on whether they have to call in the launch codes using a Zack Morris cell phone.
The same study found that maintaining the obsolete machinery costs the US government over $60 billion a year.
Here’s a live look-in at the Pentagon right now:
Just kidding. War Games came out in 1983 — these machines were already over 10 years out of date by then.
The Pentagon has promised that the crucial Department of Defense systems will stop running on floppy disks by the end of next year, although a full upgrade will take longer. So in the meantime, if you get any pop-ups asking “Shall we play a game?” you might want to stick to chess, just to be safe.