Memory lights the corners of my mind
March 5, 2009 7:47 PM   Subscribe

Computer data storage through the ages. From the punch card to the cassette drive to the Jaz, and much more.
posted by Horace Rumpole (57 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
They totally missed the 44 & 88 mb Syquest disks. Those things were ubiquitous for about -- 18 months? Murdered by the 100 mb Zip.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:58 PM on March 5, 2009


The Vaxorcist - Remember how much fun you had upgrading your systems to VMS V5.0?
posted by netbros at 8:02 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dear god netbros that was nerdy.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:10 PM on March 5, 2009


My own gripe is the demise of MO drives. All the benefits of a CD while being infinitely rewritable and a stable storage medium rather than the shitty "40 years we promise! *cross fingers*" dyes that inhabit the realm of rewritable optical media.

I always maintain that if Sony had licensed the Mini-Disc format cheaply and solved the mixed audio/data problem sooner than 2004 they would have been the replacement to floppys. And the world would have been much better for it.
posted by Talez at 8:14 PM on March 5, 2009


MiniDiscs were magneto-optical?! I had no idea.

Unfortunately for Iomega, advances in other storage mediums ultimately all but killed off the Zip drive after a briefly successful run.
Uh, I'm going to make a guess here and say that the terrible quality of the medium helped quite a bit. I can't remember how much data I lost to the infamous click of death. Good riddance to Zip disks.
posted by spiderskull at 8:15 PM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh and MO discs were in a hard case and they couldn't ever be scratched under normal use making them hardier than any other optical media.
posted by Talez at 8:16 PM on March 5, 2009


i was so pissed when the Jaz went extinct. those discs were crazy expensive!
posted by liza at 8:18 PM on March 5, 2009


Jesus, I'm pretty sure the PCs in my high school had built in zip drives. Those fucking things were awful.
posted by dead cousin ted at 8:20 PM on March 5, 2009


I still have a 10 year old Zip drive. It rules

They totally missed the 44 & 88 mb Syquest disks

God, I hated those things, flaky as hell.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 PM on March 5, 2009


Good old Floppy disks. We still have Adobe Photoshop 2.0 and 3.0 somewhere in our basement about 10 disks each. Along with a 15 GB box of new floppy disks. My dad still has zip drives that he uses for back ups.
posted by lilkeith07 at 8:31 PM on March 5, 2009


Oh man, I thought the Jaz drive was the most awesome idea ever when I got one.
posted by kdar at 8:38 PM on March 5, 2009


Other notables:

The short-lived and ill-named Iomega Clik, the Zip's smaller cousin

Sony's Memory Stick

The absurdly tiny microSD

The not-actually-DVD-compatible DVD-RAM

Also, remember those early CD drives that used disc caddies? Man, those were a pain.
posted by jedicus at 8:40 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Every once in a while I put in a 3.5 floppy of Dr. J vs Larry Bird into my ancient Mac (w/512k ram) just to play a game. 25 years old at this point.

Those freakin' Zip disks can die a long, slow carcinogenic death in the landfill. I worked at a digital service bureau in the late 90's and I was turning over so many files in a week that I had to rely on Zip disks for storage and transfer. I lost countless hours of work due to multiple failures with those damn things. That Iomega logo still creates a pit of dread in my stomach whenever I happen to see an old disk.
posted by jeremias at 8:43 PM on March 5, 2009


Brandon Blatcher: "
They totally missed the 44 & 88 mb Syquest disks

God, I hated those things, flaky as hell.
"

I knew a guy who used them because his school mandated it, he kept the discs wrapped in several layers of padding and then pressed firmly in a tupperware container so they wouldn't rattle in the slightest. At the time I remember thinking he was an overly protective idiot as I was used to tossing Zip discs around like they were made of rubber. Then I used a Syquest drive for a while and realized he was on to something with the shock proof box.

I also remember downloading mp3s over a T1 line and bringing them home on Zip discs where I could burn them onto a CD. One day I was explaining what I was doing to a kindly old family member. He would not believe, flat out not believe at all, that CD could hold the same amount of music that 7 or so Zip discs could. This guy grew up during the depression and knew nothing but basic labor jobs up and down the West coast and then through the Midwest for most of his life. A bigger chainsaw did more than a smaller one, a bigger trawler could do more work than a smaller boat, a bigger tractor could turn more land, he knew technology advanced but the CD>Zip thing he could not grasp.

He walked away annoyed and genuinely believing I was trying to trick him because he didn't understand computers.

He was awesome as hell, but that was a weird conversation to have.
posted by Science! at 8:43 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Author thinks the 18th century was the 1800s. LOL computer math failbus toot toot.
posted by autodidact at 8:46 PM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why did they mostly ignore hard drives? I would have liked it if they'da covered this puppy.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:53 PM on March 5, 2009


I have a sampler that still uses zip discs. If you have spares, please mail them to me.
posted by pompomtom at 8:53 PM on March 5, 2009


Current technology has me excited about solid state drives.
No moving parts. Kinda like SD cards as hard drives and the capacity keeps growing.
More importantly so does the write speed.
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 8:53 PM on March 5, 2009


OK, someone has to do this.

0.00017018 thickness in metres ( from here )
960 storage in bits of one punch card
120 bytes
1073741824 1 GB
64 large micro SD HD
68719476736 64 GB
572662306.1 punch cards for one microSDHC
97455.67126 height of punch cards to store the equivalent of 1 64 GB micro SDHC in metres.
posted by sien at 8:57 PM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


The neat thing about the Jaz drive was that the cartridges contained platters much like those found in hard drives. This was unique at the time, and set them far apart from the competition in terms of storage capacity. The downside was that when the drive decided to eat a disc it was just like a hard drive head crash. This trashed both the disc and the drive, and the drive would subsequently trash all other discs inserted into it. I learned this the hard way by accidentally ejecting an important cartridge while it was running. When I put it back in it didn't work, and neither did it's backup or any of the other cartridges I had laying around. Fuck you, Iomega.
posted by waxboy at 9:00 PM on March 5, 2009 [6 favorites]


5.25" floppies were around a lot later than 1982... they lasted until the 90s, sadly.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:01 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Early IBM disk storage and a brief history of hard drives.
posted by netbros at 9:03 PM on March 5, 2009


I have a usb (thumb/keyfrob/what-have-you) drive that's been through the laundry (both wash and dry) 3 times, and it still works. Take that, floppy disks.
posted by oonh at 9:06 PM on March 5, 2009


I have a usb (thumb/keyfrob/what-have-you) drive that's been through the laundry (both wash and dry) 3 times, and it still works.
Crunchly: This poor disk drive—it's shaking like a washing machine!

Crash Coredump: This disk drive is a washing machine!
posted by grouse at 9:13 PM on March 5, 2009 [2 favorites]


This post name-checking Jaz gives me a chance to get something off my chest.

Growing up, my dad was always investing in stuff like that. He was the computer guy in the family before I showed up and started obsessing over technology at around age thirteen. We had external Zip drives (100MB and 250MB) and an external Jaz drive, which we used with the Performa 6100 running Mac OS 9, around the time I was a preteen. I had my own 1GB Jaz disk (volume titled "[firstname]'s gig" with same carefully written on the outside in red sharpie, and diligently stored in the same style of shock-absorbing plastic case that Disney VHS tapes came in). All these devices quickly slid toward obsolescence and were forgotten atop a cabinet with a thick layer of dust on top.

A few years later, when I was an older teenager (Was I sixteen? Possibly seventeen?) with a terrible attitude, the subject of those old Jaz disks came up. We had an iMac (Graphite), my dad had an iBook (Blueberry) and the Performa was long gone, or aging in a closet somewhere. I'd already figured out that our Jaz drive wouldn't connect to any of our active computers. The interface was SCSI, or possibly serial. In any case, it wasn't a connection our current computers had. I told my dad that we couldn't read a Jaz with our devices, and he said "sure we can, we have a USB Jaz drive." He was absolutely sure of it, and I disagreed because I knew better. He pulled down one of the USB Zip drives. "See, here it is." "No, Dad, that's not a Jaz drive." He looked at it in what I imagined to be a sheepish way while I rolled my eyes, sighed, shook my head and repeated a contemptuous gesture I'd picked up from a friend (slapping the open palm of one hand with the back of the fingers of the other hand: a backhanded slap). I think I walked away at that point.

When I think of what a pain I was at times as a teenager, and how blessed I was to have tolerant parents, I often think of that moment. I have never mentioned it to my dad, but I've always wanted to apologize. He's probably forgotten, but I still feel terrible when I remember. It was one of a handful of times I picked out a real human frailty of his and tried to make him feel awful about it, for my own amusement or pathetic young-male rebellious and power-challenging mentality. Of course he never deserved that kind of treatment; he and Mom were never anything but bright, generous, loving people trying their damnedest to figure out the complicated business of raising a kid who had a new identity and mood every week.

I guess a good indicator of their parenting is sticking it out with me even when I did my best to hurt them for no reason. I've graduated college now and have a great relationship with my dad, but I've never explained how bad I feel about that conversation.
posted by lostburner at 9:25 PM on March 5, 2009 [11 favorites]


You mind waiting for me for five minutes, I have to pick up some zip disks. - Mark Wiener
posted by lone_one at 9:29 PM on March 5, 2009


The Dells at Kinkos have Zip drives. One of these days I should transfer archival files off my dusty Zip discs before they become irretrievable.

Little kids walking around with gigs of memory on a stick hanging from lanyards around their necks blows my mind when I think of what I paid for Zip and Jaz...then realizing that the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Module's computer only had 75K of memory...
posted by bonefish at 9:30 PM on March 5, 2009


Fuck you, Iomega.

Indeed. I'd love to have the $800 I spent on that god damn piece of shit, Jaz drive.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:33 PM on March 5, 2009


5.25" floppies were around a lot later than 1982... they lasted until the 90s, sadly.

That must be a typo. Maniac Mansion is mentioned in the blurb and that didn't come out until well after '82. 1992 makes a lot more sense (at least, that's about right for me), though is probably still a little early.
posted by ssg at 9:35 PM on March 5, 2009


The thing I remember about the Zip drive was the "click of death," which I experienced, and which spreads to other drives through bad Zip disks. Ruined a lot of stored data and two different Zip drives. Even though thousands of people complained about it, they refused to admit to it until sued. I swore off Iomega's products forever after that expensive and time-consuming experience.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:44 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, missed spiderskull's comment.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:47 PM on March 5, 2009


Oh yeah, and don't forget the Bernoulli Box. The carts were nearly a foot long and held a whole 20 MB! The unit itself was bigger (and heavier) than a PC at the time, and was so noisy that my parents would get mad at me if I turned it on when they were trying to sleep.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:49 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


5.25" floppies were around a lot later than 1982... they lasted until the 90s, sadly.
I was buying textbooks with 5.25" floppies inside the back cover in 1996.

I also remember getting a clip over the ear from my dad when I knocked over a stack of punched cards that were something to do with his Masters thesis. I must have been about 3 years old.
posted by girlgenius at 9:52 PM on March 5, 2009


Yeah, that whole contagious click of death problem—made even worse if you used them in an office situation...
"Wait, it's not working, try it on Randy's Jaz drive... Still not working? Try it on Lori's...".
Zip/Jaz: convenient when they worked, Ebola when they failed.
posted by blueberry at 9:54 PM on March 5, 2009


I have a never used, in its box "click drive" setup that for some reason I bought and, er, never used. I'm hoping it becomes valuable for Antiques Roadshow 2039

Why did 3.5 inch floppies max out at 1.44 megs? It seems they hit that capacity in, like, 1990 and then have never budged from it....
posted by Rumple at 9:55 PM on March 5, 2009


I have a sampler that still uses zip discs. If you have spares, please mail them to me.
Heh! I knew I was keeping them for a reason. I've got 15 of them sitting on a shelf next to me. They are a little dusty. The labels say 'Optima back-up 18/4/00'.
posted by tellurian at 9:55 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why did 3.5 inch floppies max out at 1.44 megs?

They didn't; there were 2.88 MB floppy disks as well.
posted by grouse at 9:58 PM on March 5, 2009


When I was in Middle School, and Giant Robots were a perfect representation of my adolescent lust for power filtered through my adolescent lust for sci-fi-geekery, my dad gave me a stack of hollerith cards. Oaktag, maybe eight inches long and three inches wide, with rows of digits printed right down the length of it.

Oh, yeah, Battletech Mech damage charts! Ready-made, and awesome, as they already had the stench of computer science on them!

I think he was hoping I'd punch out a cure for cancer or something on one of them... instead, I'd carefully mark off the experience point I got for stepping on the totally hot enemy NPC babe with my Atlas. Then I discovered that the rules allowed Tank units to completely destroy Mech units, and then I backed out and walked away before I got any deeper into hex-map-land.

But, still, punch-cards were awesome...
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:24 PM on March 5, 2009 [1 favorite]


Reading this makes me start feeling bad thinking about all the librarians who are desperately trying to keep up with the sudden changes in storage media. Aside from the "but you forgot X" stuff, (which was really a fait accompli as soon as someone came up with the idea for the article) it was a nice read that has me reminiscing about the good old days.

Oh and...
Wow maximumpc.com! (first link) That's quite a background of bright red and little black dots you have there. Maybe we could make them flash? That would be easier on my eyes.

posted by Avelwood at 10:36 PM on March 5, 2009


I always maintain that if Sony had licensed the Mini-Disc format cheaply and solved the mixed audio/data problem sooner than 2004 they would have been the replacement to floppys.

God yes. Yet another case of the music arm of Sony killing off a superb product from the technical arm. They could have been spitting out MD drives in the late 90s when blank MDs were a quarter the price of 100Mb Zip disks but instead they kept it for their music players. I had a Zip drive at the time I used to transfer stuff from my office at uni to home, and I was wishing Sony would see the light.

I also think if they'd just opened up to mp3 instead of ignoring it for ages and then finally allowed their software to do a terrible lossy transcode they could have been a real player in the mp3 player market. While others were pushing enormously expensive 64Mb solid state mp3 players Sony were selling tiny MD players for which you could buy a 100Mb disk for 5 bucks. Add a USB cable and you also have your tiny USB drive for your PC. Killing Zip, the floppy and early flash mp3 players in one hit.

Of course they ignored it until it was far too late and then the ipod showed up.
posted by markr at 10:40 PM on March 5, 2009


In 1989 I had a job in the accounting department of a large law firm that involved backing up the VAX every lunch hour. We used media similar to this. I think our stacks only had six or so platters in them, though. I want to say they were 20 or 40 MB, but I could be wrong. Possibly less. It would take an hour to run the backup, which used about six stacks.
posted by maxwelton at 12:01 AM on March 6, 2009


God yes. Yet another case of the music arm of Sony killing off a superb product from the technical arm. They could have been spitting out MD drives in the late 90s when blank MDs were a quarter the price of 100Mb Zip disks but instead they kept it for their music players. I had a Zip drive at the time I used to transfer stuff from my office at uni to home, and I was wishing Sony would see the light.

MD Data was announced in 93 but they refused to allow audio MDs to be used for data. You couldn't even reformat an audio MD to be an MD Data disc. This was stupid. Now we have the Hi-MD format and nobody gives a shit.

I also think if they'd just opened up to mp3 instead of ignoring it for ages and then finally allowed their software to do a terrible lossy transcode they could have been a real player in the mp3 player market. While others were pushing enormously expensive 64Mb solid state mp3 players Sony were selling tiny MD players for which you could buy a 100Mb disk for 5 bucks. Add a USB cable and you also have your tiny USB drive for your PC. Killing Zip, the floppy and early flash mp3 players in one hit.

This wasn't technically feasible back in 1992. ATRAC was specifically designed to be decodable with the hardware of the day. Keep in mind MP3 players didn't even launch until 1998.
posted by Talez at 1:22 AM on March 6, 2009


That's why I said late 90s. By then it seemed pretty clear to me that MD and ATRAC was going to die, rather than let it die they should have transitioned it to an mp3 format. By say '99 or '00 a 64Mb Rio cost squillions still, for much less you could get a tiny MD player and a stack of disks. You just couldn't fill it with all the mp3s you got off Napster without a lossy transcode.
posted by markr at 3:59 AM on March 6, 2009


On a re-read of my previous post I see that I wasn't really clear on the mp3/late 90s thing, I mentioned it on the data stuff.

I was using Zip drives from around '97ish and was wished for MD data then, but when Napster took off and Rio's came out (or the other way around I should say) it just seemed like such a great way to make a pile of money. I completely understand why Sony didn't do it, I sure as hell wasn't going to be buying CDs to fill my MD player with, but still...
posted by markr at 4:03 AM on March 6, 2009


I still have a paper tape of a tic-tac-toe program that I wrote in highschool on HP 2000 BASIC. I'd love to find someone who would had a working reader and could transcribe it.
posted by octothorpe at 4:46 AM on March 6, 2009


I still have a paper tape of a tic-tac-toe program...
I have an HP2000 paper tape reel somewhere, too. Probably "hunt the wumpus". IIRC, each row of holes is an 8-bit ASCII character, so I suppose you don't technically need a reader at all, you could transcribe it by hand. Try *that* with a borked DVD-R.

I notice they haven't mentioned the hellspawned DAT drive in there somewhere. There's a special place on my shit list for the inventor of that thing. After a year or so, the heads would get misaligned, and a tape written by a particular drive could frequently only be read by that particular drive, and if it failed (or you, gods forbid, FIXED the thing) then you had a useless tape.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 5:21 AM on March 6, 2009


I've got punch cards in my pocket right now (27 of them today), as I do most days, and I use them for data storage (although the data is hand written and sometimes as decipherable as Florida election results). In another pocket is a 2Gb thumb drive, so I've almost got both ends of the MaxPC article on my person.


0.00017018 thickness in metres ( from here )
960 storage in bits of one punch card
120 bytes
1073741824 1 GB
64 large micro SD HD
68719476736 64 GB
572662306.1 punch cards for one microSDHC
97455.67126 height of punch cards to store the equivalent of 1 64 GB micro SDHC in metres.


Although there are 960 hole possibilities on a standard punch card, I'm not aware of them ever being used to record 120 bytes. The standard use (EBCDIC) had 256 legal punch combinations for a total of 80 bytes per card. There was a 2-BCD per column format for recording 160 numbers per card, but that's not really bytes.
The 7090s apparently had a format that was 96 bytes per card, and of course the 96-column card stored 96 bytes (though I don't know the thickness of those. I remember them having a similar feel, but they may have been thinner)
posted by MtDewd at 5:40 AM on March 6, 2009


I have an IBM 2315 cartridge somewhere in my cruft pile. Single 14" platter in a plastic shell. I found it while moving our lab to a new building, and kept it because of the ancient awesomeness of it all. (Photo of a guy using one can be found here, part-way down the page.) Before I found that the oldest tech storage I had personally touched were tape drives and 10" floppies.

My first job out of college I worked as a lab tech. My boss had a Syquest drive for lab backups. Goddamn thing drove me nuts. It was so flaky that we eventually dumped it and went with the Jaz instead, which of course required a major investment in an entirely new set of technology. Then we discovered that through some miracle of engineering the internal drive for the Jaz had razor-sharp edges at the top and bottom of the slot. Coupled with the curved back of the drives, it was death waiting to happen. Any minor misalignment in inserting the drive meant you were jamming the drive doors solidly against the sharp edge, forcing them back into the disk platter. Insanity.

(Pretty sure that was the Jaz, but it could have been the Syquest with the drive idiocy... either way, both sucked.)

By the time I left the lab, we'd transitioned yet again, this time to a large hard drive, with one partition per lab member, coupled with a CD-R. The large-format removables were a decent idea but part of the problem with them (aside from the engineering failures) was the lack of ubiquity. If you put your data on a proprietary drive, then go to another location, how do you get it back? Flash memory solves this today, but CD-R did it earlier, and the venerable floppy before that. Zip nearly did the same, but USB and the click of death killed it.

Anyone remember the Zip 750? I have one; when I was last in the market for a Zip drive the 750 was priced below the 250, so I went with the higher capacity. It can't write to the 100mb disks, but reads them just fine. I have only once seen Zip 750 media in the wild, and given the price per megabyte didn't buy any, but kind of wish I had at least one disk for the cruft museum I am apparently compiling to impress my kid with.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:54 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


This wasn't technically feasible back in 1992. ATRAC was specifically designed to be decodable with the hardware of the day. Keep in mind MP3 players didn't even launch until 1998.

They didn't need to do this in 1992, they could have done it around the time the first Mp3 players came out, but they didn't because they were worried about piracy. Sony became a huge content company for whatever reason, and it completely killed their hardware side. Ironically they've just handed a bunch more power to their CEO, Howard Stringer, who was the architect of their failed strategy, on the theory that the hardware side was all stodgy and wouldn't get with the program.
posted by delmoi at 6:43 AM on March 6, 2009


This reminded me of the two sparq drives I owned. Anyone else own one? If so, I can guarantee that you still regret that purchase - For those who don't know, this was probably what killed Syquest.

What made it awesome was that these were inexpensive (well, compared to Jaz at least) 1GB removable disks - It was essentially a HD platter in a box. I had two - One external, so I could take it to my T3 backed job and download stuff (This was maybe 98-99, and I was running lowly 14.4 at home) and one internal, so I could run without the parallel port drag.

This was a great idea in theory, and worked excellently for about a week. You haven't experienced a truly wrenching click of death until you have heard one of those fail. What was truly awesome was that a failed disk would typically ruin other drives, which would in turn fail other disks, etc. What's the usual step you take when a disk doesn't work? Try another disk, or another drive, right?

It was like actually watching a highly effective virus trash the physical components- One failed disk or drive would cause failures in anything else it touched. Either incredibly incompetent or awesome engineering, depending on the intentions.
posted by MysticMCJ at 6:43 AM on March 6, 2009


I had a Fujitsu 1.3 GB MO drive. Nice piece of equipment. Simple sleek package. Ran off of Firewire bus power. Done up in Bondi blue, precisely locating it on the timeline of computer history. I hadn't used them in years—the time was long since past when my home directory would fit into 1.3 GB. So I gave the drive and most of my cartridges to a fellow Mefite at the white-elephant gift exchange we held here in Austin in December. I still have one cartridge, for old-time's sake.

Other fun facts about MOs:

MOs were the preferred backup medium in Japan (doubt they still are). Compared to finicky Syquests and Bernoullis, this makes a lot of sense. As others have said, they're bulletproof.

The very first NeXT Cubes had only a 5.25" MO drive. No floppy, no hard drive. If you wanted to buy new software, you either had to download it (modems back then topped out at 9600 bps, I think) or mail your MO disc to the software publisher. Eventually NeXT started putting in 40 MB swap drives because the MO drives, for all their virtues, were really slow.
posted by adamrice at 7:48 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


That must be a typo. Maniac Mansion is mentioned in the blurb and that didn't come out until well after '82. 1992 makes a lot more sense (at least, that's about right for me), though is probably still a little early.

Actually, it's right between the two: 1987. I liked seeing the examples of the 5.25 and 3.5 being Maniac Mansion and DotT disks respectively.. I can't believe how well those games hold up today.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:53 AM on March 6, 2009


This gets really complicated once you start throwing in all the weird tape media. Anybody remember a box you could buy that would let you (try to) backup your computer to your home VCR and VHS tape?
posted by LastOfHisKind at 9:07 AM on March 6, 2009


OK, someone has to do this.

0.00017018 thickness in metres ( from here ) etc...


We've done it once before.
posted by fungible at 10:22 AM on March 6, 2009


My first job was typesetting for a small Western Mass newspaper in the early 80s. I was 9 or so. My dad was a staff photographer and he'd bring me into the office during the summer to hang out while he worked in the darkroom.

A kid in a newsroom can be a dangerous thing and after I'd worn out my welcome by asking lots of questions and playing with the border tape from the layout table, Editor Pat decided she better put me to work. During one slow day she plunked me down in front of the typesetting machine, gave me a stack of articles, and let me loose. I was thrilled. You mean I can sit around all day typing on this computer and that counts as a job?! (Oh, signs of things to come...) My payment was all the soda I could drink from the office fridge. I totally came out ahead on that one. A 9-year-old can put away prodigious amounts of root beer.

What really blew my mind was the 7" floppies that the typesetter used. I was accustomed to the 5 1/4" disks for my Apple II, so when Pat brought out what looked like an oversized comedy prop I could not believe it. And then she told me that the smaller disks contained more information. Maybe I was hopped up on the root beer and the fumes from the darkroom, but man, that topsy-turvy revelation made me giddy.

The best part of the 5 1/4" floppies, besides the fact that you could take a hole punch to the side and have a whole nother disk, was when you got one that was slightly off and it would go shwhirrwhirrwhirrshwhirrwhirrwhirr in the drive.

And the best part of the Apple floppy drive was learning how to make it moo. CALL 985 for life, yo.
posted by Spatch at 10:34 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember putting together my first desktop without a floppy drive in the late '90s. Seemed like such a crazy, risky thing at the time!
posted by LordSludge at 11:40 AM on March 6, 2009


No mention of plated wire memories. I was in a start-up in 1970 where part of our product plan was to develop such a product. Fortunately a competitor threatened to sue us for stealing their IP because we had hired one of their key employees so we canceled the project, thereby saving us from certain flameout.
posted by ajsrider at 9:22 AM on March 7, 2009


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