People queuing for Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system at PC World stores in the UK will be some of the last to see a floppy disk in the shops. Email, CDs and USB memory sticks appear to have finally killed off the slim but small-capacity disks that were first introduced by Sony in 1981.

PC World has said it will stop selling the old storage medium as soon as stocks run out. Demand for the floppy disk has plummeted as PC owners have opted for CDs, DVDs and USB memory sticks or transferred data with email.

"The sound of a floppy disk drive will be as closely associated with 20th-century computing as the sound of a computer dialling up the internet", said Bryan Magrath, the commercial director of PC World.

"The pace of change is relentless and computer owners use memory sticks, some of which have 1,000 times the capacity of a floppy disk. With that amount of memory available, the floppy disk looks increasingly quaint."

The 3.5-inch disk stores just 1.44MB of data, compared to over 700MB for a CD and 8.5GB for DVD. The vast majority of today's PCs no longer ship with a floppy drive – a trend started by Apple's iMac in 1998.