Vinyl Art opened its doors for business in 1978. We didn’t Tweet about it or post on Facebook because…well, because the Internet had yet to be invented (that happened in 1983). Things started hopping for technology and for us not long after. We’ve witnessed entire technologies come and go. One in particular stands out.
Throughout the 1980s we manufactured countless computer diskette holders. First it was for the 5¼-inch floppy disks for the drive that was introduced in 1978. Those quickly gave way to the rigid plastic 3.5-inch drives. You remember those, right? Crazy colors. You knew your data was being recorded because of the obnoxious sounds coming from the drive. It was how we made data portable. But technology moved on. By 2009, Sony was the last manufacturer of the 3.5-inch floppy disk. It sold more than 12 million of them that year. Less than 24 months later, Sony discontinued production.
Diskette storage just couldn’t keep up with our need for much greater storage capacity.
Today’s smartphones can store from 16 to 256 gigabytes of data. If you wanted to store your smartphone selfies and music on 3.5-inch diskettes, you have to use anywhere from 11,376 to 182,016 of them. Making all those diskette holders would have kept us busy!
Sony didn’t go out of business when the world left diskettes behind, and neither did we. Fast-forward to the present. One of our quickest growing product lines is customized packaging for USB and thumb drives. Technology closed the door on our diskette holder business, but it continues to open doors to new opportunities. We look forward to the change, but here are a few 1978 throwbacks we fondly remember as we wind up the yearlong observance of our 40th anniversary.
A Look At What Was Happening In 1978
- Let’s start with something we can all relate to. Gas was just 63 cents a gallon. We predict that the cost of gas won’t remain a hallmark much longer. The rise of Uber and Lyft, as well as an accelerating move to electric vehicles, is poised to make concerns about the cost of gas the floppy diskette of these times.
- Garfield the cat made his debut in newspaper comic strips across the United States. Many of the 41 newspapers that carried Garfield’s June 19 debut have ceased publication. But if there’s really such a thing as cosmic balance, cats are one of the most popular subjects on the Internet.
- Pocket calculator manufacturer Texas Instruments introduced a line of hand-held educational toys for children called Speak & Spell. Today it can be found in the Smithsonian Museum because of its influence on the field of modern speech synthesis. You might say that we were seeing a little bit of Siri and Alexa all the way back in 1978.
- Mead introduced the first of its Trapper Keepers that year. Over the past 40 years, more than 75 million of these three-ring binders that close with a flap have been sold to school-age kids. At their peak, Trapper Keepers generated more than $100 million annually for Mead. It’s a product near and dear to our hearts because we are a major supplier of vinyl and poly products for education industries.
Changes over four decades have propelled us in directions we never could have predicted when we opened for business in 1978. Technology has dramatically transformed how we manufacture our products. For example, our newest production equipment uses ultrasonic vibrations rather than heat in the manufacturing process.
Newsletters like this already existed in 1978, but the format and mode of distribution would have been practically unimaginable. We thank you for being a part of our 40-year odyssey as we bring this year and our celebration to an end, and we look forward to what technology holds in store for us in the years to come.