Chuck E. Cheese restaurants are still using floppy disks for their animatronic mascots.
An employee of the American food chain released a TikTok showing how he inserts the latest seasonal floppy disk into a server to give the animatronic mouse its new song and dance routine.
The technology has been used by Chuck E. Cheese for 25 years. The 3.50-inch floppy can hold 1.44 MB of data, and works in a ‘Cyberstar’ rack-mount computer system which can be dated back to 1998.
In a Reddit post, a user who claims to be an animatronic and arcade repair technician for the company posted last year: “So right now we actually run them off floppy disks. I am not kidding you. We have this ancient server rack installed in at least 1998 if not earlier, and in 2022 we still receive the animatronic data disks on a floppy drive. The show itself is on DVD.”
Tom Persky, the owner of floppydisk.com the company which has been providing Chuck E. Cheese with its supply, thinks that for some use cases, the floppy is a logical choice.
“If you’re looking for something very stable, really non-hackable — it's not Internet-based, not network-based,” Persky said. “It's quite elegant for what it does.” According to Persky, the floppy disk is still being used in the airline and medical-tech sectors.
Less than 50 of the company's 600 'entertainment centers' still use this retro-tech, and Chuck E. Cheese is planning to phase out animatronics altogether and use a new screen-based entertainment system or people in costumes instead. This phasing-out is expected to be completed in the next year or two.