Necromancy Power over 9000
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Until 2019, believe it or not, the US nuclear weapons program ran on 8-inch floppy disks. As of today, there are still quite a few technologies that rely on floppies: Boeing 747 jets. Part of the San Francisco public transit system. And — on a slightly less concerning, but no less amusing note — the performing animatronic creatures at Chuck E. Cheese restaurants.
In a recent viral TikTok, a Chuck E. Cheese employee shows off the winter 2023 floppy disk sent from corporate headquarters. The TikToker demonstrates how he loads the 3.5-inch disk into a large computer server in order to relay the data for the latest song-and-dance routine for the robotic animals.
This kind of retro tech has long captivated the internet. In 2008, a collector programmed the erstwhile ShowBiz Pizza Place chain’s animatronic band, the Rock-afire Explosion, to sing current songs like “Love in This Club” by Usher. The result is something deep in the uncanny valley:
Today there is a robust adult fandom dedicated to Chuck E. Cheese, which was launched in 1977 and purchased by Showbiz Pizza’s parent company in 1985. (The current corporate entity that owns Chuck E. Cheese has been known since 2020 as CEC Entertainment LLC.) Collectors build and restore their own animatronic sets at home. On eBay, there’s a lot of vintage Chuck E. Cheese memorabilia, both toys and shirts, as well as stuff that only an employee could have obtained, including old costumes and parts of robots.
Chuck E. Cheese Still Uses Floppy Disks To Make Its Rodent Mascot Dance — For Now
The retro tech is "quite elegant for what it does," the restaurant chain's floppy disk vendor said.