The US' Nuclear Arsenal is Powered by a 1970s IBM and Floppy Disks

By Gary Cutlack on at

In a news release talking about how it plans to tackle the problem of ageing computer systems, the US government auditor has struck terror into the world in a new and exciting way -- by revealing its nuclear weapons are controlled by 1970s IBM computers that boot code from 8-inch floppy disks.

The Department of Defense Strategic Automated Command and Control System is the thing that does the work, as it's this that the paper says "coordinates the operational functions of the United States' nuclear forces," including the intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers and tanker support planes that keep the world permanently minutes away from being wiped out thousands of times over in endless white fires that smell of melted hair and skin.

"...the Department of Defense uses 8-inch floppy disks in a legacy system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces," the report coldly notes, explaining that it's an IBM Series/1 computer -- almost certainly a lovely stained yellow by now -- that's looking after the nukes. At least that means it be used to go on the internet, which is probably a good thing.

As well as the military's outdated hardware, the report [PDF] says critical US Treasury machines operate on an IBM mainframe that runs assembly language code and is literally 56 years old. [GAO [PDF] via Popsci]

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