Turns out the obsolete floppy is way more in demand than you’d think
September 13, 2022 6:44 AM   Subscribe

 
Floppy disks in Japan: Minister declares war on old-fashioned technology

As the joke goes, Japan: where it's been the year 2000 since 1980.
posted by bonehead at 6:46 AM on September 13 [50 favorites]


I was sitting at an airport gate this past weekend and heard the familiar sound of a dot-matrix printer behind the podium, ripping out a passenger manifest or something else.

They're super necessary in some industries where you need duplicate or triplicate entries of a form printed reliably (shipping is a good example), so there must be someone still making printers and obviously there's another group somewhere that must still be making tractor-feed paper.

Kind of curious what else falls into this category besides printers and floppy disks. Maybe plotter pens?
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:58 AM on September 13 [11 favorites]


The Apple II group I'm in did a manufacturing run of ribbons for ancient Apple Imagewriters, so yes, there's still interest. But finding parts and contract manufacturers willing to do it at any price is getting impossible.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:03 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


Turns out the obsolete floppy is way more in demand than you’d think

foone turing is an outlier adn should not have been counted
posted by zamboni at 7:07 AM on September 13 [41 favorites]


Answered my own question: You can still buy dot-matrix (ahem, impact) printers from Epson.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:09 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


so we have one main supplier a small business run by a 72 year old dude..... who works essentially out of their garage- for a niche, obsolete product!

well, given this lack of resilience and redundancy for the supply of this item, it must be for whimsical, non-critical uses like.....

(checks notes)

medical devices and airplane software

nope nothing to worry about here, nosireee
posted by lalochezia at 7:13 AM on September 13 [92 favorites]


How hard would it be to handcraft an artisanal floppy disk capable of working in a drive? I'm guessing you'd need Mylar coated with a magnetic oxide with the right properties, as well as a protective sleeve (rigid plastic or cardboard, with an internal lining). For 3½" disks, there'd be extra complexity in the shell, hub, shutter and such. How foolhardy would someone with access to a makerspace have to be to attempt to make one?
posted by acb at 7:15 AM on September 13 [7 favorites]


Very interesting read. Thank!
posted by Qubit at 7:18 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


You can still buy dot-matrix (ahem, impact) printers from Epson.

Traditionally, printers for order tickets at bars and restaurants have used impact tech. Epson is the flagship brand, in part because the printers are built like tanks and survive the abuses of the environments in which they get deployed. The reason for using them is the noise they make: it alerts staff that a new ticket (*) has arrived. Quaint, but effective. Everything else is thermal.

(*) ...or series of new tickets. There's nothing like the chill you get listening to the sound of a printer vomiting a stream of orders.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 7:18 AM on September 13 [15 favorites]


foone turing is an outlier adn should not have been counted

I tell my future librarians and archivists that when they have an information carrier in hand that they can't identify, "someone in the community will know what it is, and that someone is probably foone."
posted by humbug at 7:28 AM on September 13 [10 favorites]


r/kitchenconfidential subreddit is a good place to go if you like 10 foot strips of food orders. :)
posted by Splunge at 7:29 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


This was a great article.

"who works essentially out of their garage"

He doesn't. He says he occasionally does transfers at home while watching TV, but the his business is in an office park.

The issue isn't really that there's just one business still selling floppy disks — it's that no one is making them. But there are disk drive replacements that let you use an SD card or USB drive instead of a disk. They're regularly used in musical equipment from the 80s like samplers and sequencers. The same things can surely be used in airplanes and medical devices. It's probably just easier for the time being to use what works. Once he stops selling, then there will be real incentive to swap out the drives.


" How foolhardy would someone with access to a makerspace have to be to attempt to make one?"

Very.
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:29 AM on September 13 [18 favorites]


"foone turing is an outlier adn should not have been counted"

I had to look up the words in this sentence, so if you're as confused as I was, Foone Turing is "a programmer who works on old hardware/software, archival, floppy disks, and reverse engineering."
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:32 AM on September 13 [22 favorites]


During the pandemic I used floppy’s on a Sony mavica to make a movie with my grand children. I’ve yet to edit “bird kills the fly” but it really helped to learn filmmaking when everyone had the time.
posted by JohnR at 7:37 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


I still have a portable USB floppy drive in a drawer. It has replaceable outer skins to match whichever yummy-color first-gen iMac you have. My much-newer-but-not-quite-recent-vintage Mac dutifully mounts it to the desktop and reads/writes.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:40 AM on September 13 [7 favorites]


That interview was great.

People see their late grandmother or their baby pictures again and that’s very important to them. We’re happy to bring these things back. We’re not being charitable and we don’t need to be congratulated for it, but it is nice to know that we’re getting people stuff they really need.

I love his philosophy there, the idea that you can be doing good while still making a living. I've never understood (aside from the obvious greed motive) why we have this bifurcation in organizations where you're either supposed to be maximizing profits ethics be damned, or be a selfless charity.
posted by Ickster at 7:43 AM on September 13 [21 favorites]


It's not surprising that floppy disks are still around in hardware. There are devices that emulate a floppy drive with the same hardware interface but can use modern media like USB instead. eBay has a bunch for about $30. I wonder if they're suitable for many applications?

I'm happy to report the new PC motherboard I bought doesn't have a floppy disk controller on it. You can buy a floppy controller on a PCI card but they're expensive, $75! A full floppy drive with a USB connector is $30.
posted by Nelson at 7:47 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


There's nothing like the chill you get listening to the sound of a printer vomiting a stream of orders.

You've seen this, right? Still cracks me up.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:48 AM on September 13 [10 favorites]


I had to look up the words in this sentence, so if you're as confused as I was, Foone Turing is "a programmer who works on old hardware/software, archival, floppy disks, and reverse engineering."

To thoroughly vivisect the joke, Foone is (in)famous for their fascination with old storage media, particularly optical and floppy drives. I am implying that foone is buying all the disks, causing a statistical aberration much like Spiders Georg. I hope this has helped with your confusion.
posted by zamboni at 7:59 AM on September 13 [9 favorites]


So nobody makes typewriters anymore? That was the part of the article that surprised me the most, though I probably shouldn't have been.
posted by clawsoon at 8:03 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


I sometimes miss dot-matrix printers, which were slow and noisy but also cheap and reliable. I've been nothing but frustrated with our world of laser printers and inkjets.

So I was excited to learn that Epson still makes them, and I can have one if I want for only a little over five thousand dollars! It will serve me and my descendants forever.
posted by Well I never at 8:05 AM on September 13 [9 favorites]


There are devices that emulate a floppy drive with the same hardware interface but can use modern media like USB instead. eBay has a bunch for about $30. I wonder if they're suitable for many applications?

You'll notice they're largely GoTeks, with varying levels of customization for different applications. With a little tweaking you can get them working on a variety of platforms.
posted by zamboni at 8:17 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


Also from Japan, this story from less than a year ago about Tokyo ward offices starting to phase out floppies. In the case of Meguro ward, only because their bank had instituted a surcharge for handling floppies. Bear in mind that Tokyo's ward offices are equivalent to city halls for mid-sized American cities.
posted by adamrice at 8:19 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


For extra fun, Android is Linux and has floppy drivers, so you can plug a USB floppy drive with an C-to-A adapter into your phone and, after gronking for many seconds, it will offer to store photos on the removable media device it has discovered.
posted by autopilot at 8:22 AM on September 13 [20 favorites]


I see that typewriters are still being made and you can still buy them at Home Depot.
posted by clawsoon at 8:30 AM on September 13 [5 favorites]


Floppy disks in Japan: Minister declares war on old-fashioned technology

This fits with something I've recently learned about Japan. Despite the general impression that they are a highly technologically advanced country (and, in many ways, they are), they are also still really beholden to old, traditional ways of doing things in business and elsewhere. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but, for example, the cultural norm of handwriting your resume for every job application just seems fucking wild to me; it's apparently become less of a thing in the past 4-6 years, but it's still expected by some companies and they'll even use the neatness of your handwriting as a criteria in the hiring process.

As for the 3.5" floppy disc itself, there is something oddly appealing about it as a physical artefact. It's not actually analog, but it *feels* kind of like an analog medium similar to vinyl records for music, because of the physicality of it and the fact that the little metal thingy protecting the actual disc inside the cartridge is so tactical and fun to fiddle with. If I had any legitimate reason for using them (some kind of digital art project, maybe?) then I would not object to trying to source an old PC with a disc drive just for fun.
posted by asnider at 8:30 AM on September 13 [8 favorites]


At one point I had in my possession a Selectric II. Man, I wish I knew where that was.
posted by gc at 8:34 AM on September 13 [6 favorites]


Speaking of floppies and old-fashioned technology, I'm always reminded of this How It's Made video for player piano rolls. Fast forward to 1:21 to see how they load the score into the machine that punches out the rolls.
posted by mhum at 8:37 AM on September 13 [3 favorites]


For extra fun, Android is Linux and has floppy drivers, so you can plug a USB floppy drive with an C-to-A adapter into your phone and, after gronking for many seconds, it will offer to store photos on the removable media device it has discovered.

I used to store an entire semester's worth of essays on a single floppy, and now I wonder if my phone would try to compress the last picture I took (5.2MB) to fit on one 1.44MB disk or if it would try to split it across 4.
posted by Is It Over Yet? at 8:46 AM on September 13 [5 favorites]


There are even some industrial companies that still use Sony Mavica cameras to take photographs

I can't overstate how incredible the Sony Mavica FD7 was at the time. It wrote JPGs to floppy disks.

IT WROTE JPGS TO FLOPPY DISKS! No more having to download pictures to a laptop to make more space. Just eject the full floppy disk and put in another. It was incredible. I suspect I still have it tucked in a drawer of similarly obsolete-but-groundbreaking-at-the-time tech. (e.g.: Creative Labs "Jukebox" hard-disk player. It had an optical-in for recording...)


I sometimes miss dot-matrix printers, which were slow and noisy but also cheap and reliable. I've been nothing but frustrated with our world of laser printers and inkjets.


I spent a decade in insurance IT and -- yes -- printing multipart forms was a very significant part of my career at the time. In fact, we had a guy working with us who was into building bicycles, so I got him a set of Okidata ML320/321 SERVICE MANUALS and the 800# for an okidata parts wholesaler and we brought all that maintenance in-house.
posted by mikelieman at 8:47 AM on September 13 [16 favorites]


Kind of curious what else falls into this category besides printers and floppy disks.

You frequently run into situations in general aviation like this. Companies go out of business, but planes and hardware are still flying and still need business. Sometimes, an owner's association will form and either buy the IP (and spares, more rarely tooling) from the bankruptcy proceeding or some holding company will buy this stuff up in the hopes of rebooting the brand and owners will work with them to custom manufacture small runs of parts. Consumables are a little bit harder, so for rare/vintage planes cartels of museums and private owners will, say, contract Goodyear to make a short run of odd format tires.
posted by backseatpilot at 8:48 AM on September 13 [6 favorites]



He doesn't. He says he occasionally does transfers at home while watching TV, but the his business is in an office park.

OK but thats still a single point of failure


The issue isn't really that there's just one business still selling floppy disks — it's that no one is making them. But there are disk drive replacements that let you use an SD card or USB drive instead of a disk. They're regularly used in musical equipment from the 80s like samplers and sequencers. The same things can surely be used in airplanes and medical devices. It's probably just easier for the time being to use what works. Once he stops selling, then there will be real incentive to swap out the drives.


For some things, sure, for others, not so much. See, for example, medical device certification. A copypasta from mefi's own cstross:

It's not as simple as "just update" for medical facilities.

http://www.metafilter.com/166949/WanaCrypt0r-20#7025622

Actually, a whole bunch of clinical diagnostic equipment runs on embedded PCs, either Windows CE systems or Intel ones. Windows provides the friendly UI for, for example, radiologists, or A&E blood monitoring, and so on. This isn't just office admin equipment.

A big part of the problem is that when a computerized medical device is certified for use on patients the certification applies to the hardware and all the software including the operating system and all patches and drivers in the submitted configuration only.


If you allow a PC running Excel to upgrade whenever MS push a patch, the worst outcome is that you can't run your spreadsheet. If the PC is running an X-ray source or a gamma knife or helping control anaesthesia in a theatre the worst possible outcomes are fatal; you don't even want antivirus software kicking off at random and slowing shit up (this caused a medical emergency in a theater in the USA last year that made comp.risks — the anaesthetists has to drop everything and ventilate the patient on the table manually until a nurse could reboot the PC that had decided looking for malware was a higher priority level than keeping a patient breathing during surgery).

Anyway, these machines can't be patched/upgraded without large bills for safety recertification (if indeed the software is ever updated after it's finally frozen and certified). And they're often networked because being able to remotely determine if they've fallen over is important.

And so we get machines running OSs that fell of MS's support conveyor years ago still running, unpatched and without antivirus software, on hospital networks ... and the cost of replacement isn't a few hundred bucks for a new OS license or a new PC, it's several tens or hundreds of thousands for a shiny new piece of medical equipment that just happens to have an embedded Windows PC to provide the user interface.
posted by lalochezia at 8:54 AM on September 13 [27 favorites]


I have one floppy disk. Of all the many I've had, I kept this one.

I was in high-school in 1994, and our school's computer system ran on Novell Netware. On boot you were greeted with a login screen for this system. This screen was all ascii, meaning it was trivial to replicate in basic. So I edited the bios on the terminal the teacher used in class. Rather than boot from the network, it would boot from the floppy drive. I prepared a disk with the fake login screen, which would save the user/pass and login as normal. I took a sharpie and colored in the disk activity light.

It worked! That's how I got the staff password. I came back later for the disk and, fuck me drunk, the password was on it. I still have that disk!
posted by adept256 at 8:57 AM on September 13 [49 favorites]


I used to keep a 3.5 inch diskette for booting various hacking tools for Windows NT and 2000 to copy / crack the SAM etc…..but no idea where it went and it would have been my last diskette probably from mid 2000’s.

I have just released that really I have no removable media anymore for anything (I know I have some old Amazon Fire Tablets that have SD cards in them, and a phone with a physical SIM that I guess is technically removable, albeit very specific, storage). I have never even touched a Blue Ray disc. I got a movie DVD in a mystery box I brought a while back…..but literally have no way of playing it. I think I could play a CD in my car if I really needed to if there isn't one jammed in there from years ago.

Which is all odd because I remember just how much of my school / University / early career time was spent shuffling around diskettes / Zip drives / USB sticks / CD-Rs with data. Feels weird to think about. Oh god - Zip drives and the click of death.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 9:08 AM on September 13 [11 favorites]


Tom Persky's not the only person selling floppy disks. He's probably the most recognizable one, though. He might be the only one reliably selling DS/DD floppies that work with very old Macs, though. He doesn't sell Hitachi 3" floppies, but I guess Amstrad and Tatung's computers were never a big deal in the USA.

(looks over to the Apple IIe + DuoDrive on the desk next to me ...)
posted by scruss at 9:12 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


I still have a 1541C Commodore floppy drive. It goes with my C-128. Do I win something? :)
posted by Splunge at 9:28 AM on September 13 [8 favorites]


If anyone's wondering, the absolute best technology currently available for making a digital copy of a floppy disk is the Applesauce floppy disk controller.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:35 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


It worked! That's how I got the staff password.

I did something extremely similar in my own High School computer classroom. That poor teacher did his best, but he was just not prepared for a bunch of kids who grew up with this stuff.
posted by notoriety public at 9:39 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


I know technology moves on, but you can have my zip disk when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Sorry, I meant you can have my dead zip disk when you pry it from my cold dead hands.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 9:52 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I meant you can have my dead zip disk when you pry it from my cold dead hands.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:52 AM on September 13 [+] [!]

click
posted by gc at 9:54 AM on September 13 [12 favorites]


My 1541 died a while back, so I have to use my 1570's.
I have dozens of diskettes around, but the main reader I used was a Thinkpad 580D that had both a diskette reader and a USB port, so I could transfer some of my old stuff, and the reader died.
I've always thought it weird that the 3.5"s were still called floppy. Even the 5 1/4"s were not very floppy. I got trained on the 370-145, which used 8"ers to load microcode. Those flopped.
Incidentally, during my training, we were told to refer to them as flexible diskettes, as the term 'floppy' was copyrighted. (So we were told)
posted by MtDewd at 9:57 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


I keep an unopened box of DOS 5.0 disks from IBM in my office as decoration.

Whichever one of you opens up a Metafilter themed retirement home needs to make sure that one of the afternoon activities involves using physical media.
posted by eckeric at 10:00 AM on September 13 [14 favorites]


Those Commodore 1541 floppy drives were wild. They were basically a little computer of their own, including a 6502 CPU similar to the host computer. Way more powerful than you would have expected for a peripheral. And for all that they were very slow, because of some bad design decisions. There were some third party hacks that could transfer data off discs faster but I don't think any were commonly adopted. As a kid I learned to type LOAD "*",8,1 and then go make a sandwich or something.

But I was more of an Apple ][ kid (or Franklin Ace, if I'm being precise). The original drives there were limited to 35 tracks on the floppy despite 40 being the standard. You could cut a little piece of metal in the drive that was blocking access to the extra 5 tracks, getting almost 20% more storage. The fun thing is that meant the disk head could go out to a virtual track 48 or so; depending on the quality of floppy you bought you might have 4 or so more usable tracks than even the 40.
posted by Nelson at 10:03 AM on September 13 [3 favorites]


The 1541's were also helpfully weighted, so you could lash them to your body and ensure you sank to the depths of the wine dark sea after the final read error.
posted by adept256 at 10:14 AM on September 13 [14 favorites]


You can see from this conversation that I’m not exactly a person with great vision. I just follow what our customers want us to do.

That's actually a wonderful business philosophy.

Sure, companies can sometimes lead their customers in new directions. But sometimes companies won't even consider what their customers are asking, even begging them for. The fact this guy can make a business out of floppy disks shows what can happen when a business actually listens to what its customers want.
posted by eye of newt at 10:29 AM on September 13 [12 favorites]


I have a fairly extensive 1980’s and early 90’s computer collection, everything from 8-bits to early PCs and Macs. I’ve bought single-sided 8.25 disks from this guy for my ti99/4a. It over the years I’ve gradually converted all my disk or cassette tape machines to some sort of disk or tape emulator. Same with replacing as many of my ancient hard drives as possible with solid-state hard drive emulators. The old storage media and equipment is just getting too unreliable and expensive, and USB drives, compact flash, and SD cards are so much more convenient for moving data and files around. The only one I have yet to get off of floppy disks is my IBM 5155, but it has a Compact Flash hard drive emulator so I rarely need to use the old 5.25 floppy drives.

A big problem now is that a lot of hardware emulators require Compact Flash cards, and a lot of them are picky about size. They want small cards, 1 or 2gb at most. Those cards are starting to be harder to find and unreliable with age.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:31 AM on September 13 [6 favorites]


Kind of curious what else falls into this category besides printers and floppy disks. Maybe plotter pens?

In Boston, home of North America's oldest subway, the MBTA has blacksmiths who forge and repair custom pieces that are no longer manufactured or available.

Last I heard, there were 5 of them left, and there's concern that there will be noone to replace them as they retire.
posted by jeremias at 10:54 AM on September 13 [12 favorites]




You've seen this, right?

::chefs kiss::
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 10:56 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


I’ve bought single-sided 8.25 disks from this guy for my ti99/4a

Oops. Nothing that exotic. I meant to write 5.25” disks.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:06 AM on September 13


Has anyone bought those USB floppy drives off Amazon or ebay? I'd like to know how reliable they are before I drop thirty bucks on them.
posted by AlSweigart at 11:07 AM on September 13


Kind of curious what else falls into this category besides printers and floppy disks. Maybe plotter pens?

Camera parts, slide projector shit, and reel-to-reel or disposable camera film development. I did some menial scut work involving this kind of thing and people were really, really mad that they couldn't get their stuff back as fast as they could thirty or forty years ago. It got even worse if the single reliable repair person in the area was booked solid and something broke down.
posted by kkar at 11:08 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


Plotter pens are a living category thanks to the fashion to take old 80s HP plotters, refurbish them, and use them to make art. There's a whole world of folks who know how to find new old stock, also to repair and refill the pens. Those old plotters are amazing hardware, very fast and precise, and it's pretty easy to upgrade them to use a modern USB interface. Lots of new software written for them too.
posted by Nelson at 11:11 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


Has anyone bought those USB floppy drives off Amazon or ebay?

I did last year for some retrocomputer fun and it's still working just fine for me.
posted by fellion at 11:11 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


Phhh, plotters would be superb for paper copies of digitally produced sewing patterns, which are v annoying to tape together from letter size.
posted by clew at 11:15 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


Kind of curious what else falls into this category besides printers and floppy disks. Maybe plotter pens?

Old professional video decks, esp. digibeta. I met a guy with huge collection of them which he sold & serviced. Tons and tons of stuff still on cassette that needs to be transferred. Keeps the prices of the decks high too.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 11:19 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


So, people are still to this day finding old floppies in attics and preservationists are ripping them and doing their best to make them accessible. But do you know what this scene is going to look like in another fifteen years, or even sooner? Trying to find a favorite old game that was Unpersoned on the app store, or some vintage pictures that were scrapped by the cloud? You'll have people finding old smartphones in the bottoms of dusty drawers, and sending them off to Future Foones who have the tools to pull the raw bits off the rapidly decaying multilevel flash chips, cross-referencing them with other known bad copies to patch up the multibit errors that the ECC couldn't account for. You'll have people flash-heating the PCB while cooling the chips to dealer then without causing more bit flips. It's going to be wild!
posted by phooky at 11:19 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


This isn't necessarily a bad thing but, for example, the cultural norm of handwriting your resume for every job application just seems fucking wild to me; it's apparently become less of a thing in the past 4-6 years, but it's still expected by some companies and they'll even use the neatness of your handwriting as a criteria in the hiring process.

i am experiencing second-hand anxiety like you would not believe.
posted by ZaphodB at 11:21 AM on September 13 [14 favorites]


I would also add: old tube video monitors w/ analog RGB inputs. Retro-gamers pay top $ for these which would lead me to believe that there's a business keeping them running and calibrated.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 11:24 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]


One of my hobbies is fixing up old vacuum-tube radios. Similar do discs, there are a few long-time tube suppliers with massive back stocks of old tubes. Fortunately, so many tubes were made that common ones are cheap as anything, tubes don't really go bad just sitting in storage, and for many tubes if you can't find the exact one there are reasonable substitutions. They are also pretty long-lived, even in use. The biggest problem with my old radios are ancient capacitors. However, I have one 1930's radio that requires a tube that was only made in Canada, no-where else, for a few years. There are no substitutes for that tube. People have had to resort to buying entire radios just to get one as they are very rare to find. That tube stresses me out every time I turn on that radio.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:26 AM on September 13 [4 favorites]


Kind of curious what else falls into this category besides printers and floppy disks. Maybe plotter pens?

If anyone has a working Zip drive, I have some old files that I'd be curious to recover...

I signed off on the purchase of a typewriter just this year.

For sale, DLT drive...SCSI connectors...cheap!
posted by Chuffy at 12:47 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


I have a couple boxes with on the order of 100 or so 3.5” floppies in my closet. A blend of ShareWare from the early Nineties (anyone remember Scorched Earth?) and commercial software that, damnit, I PAID GOOD MONEY FOR! (WordPerfect 5.1, et al.). Every once in a while I debate setting up a DOS VM and playing with it, remember I don’t remember how half of it works, and wonder “why.”

We do have a 3.5” USB floppy drive. A few years ago my daughter RickRolled a friend by downloading and downcoding a copy of the video, placing it on a floppy, and giving it to them.

Of course, she also had to loan them the drive.
posted by MrGuilt at 1:06 PM on September 13 [5 favorites]


Kind of curious what else falls into this category besides printers and floppy disks. Maybe plotter pens?

A whole shedload of scientific instrumentation. Some of it is extremely well built and regularly lasts many times its expected lifetime. I have a unit that's not 20m from my office that's older than many of the students who run it. It is still good enough for research work. It is being replaced this year mostly because it's too painful to keep the software it needs running though. And parts are getting hard to find even on the used markets. It is almost 25 years old now. It doesn't owe us anything.
posted by bonehead at 1:17 PM on September 13 [8 favorites]


For sale, DLT drive...SCSI connectors...cheap!

"Ever since the XP-38 LTO Ultrium came out, they just aren't in demand"
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 1:18 PM on September 13 [2 favorites]


Oh right, I also just remembered that there's (I think) one company remaining (in Ireland) making flashbulbs. They're apparently still desirable for some specialist photography, including very high speed photography for scientific application since the light output is massive compared to electronic strobes.

They're very expensive, but for us other weirdos who like retro camera equipment there's still a fairly robust NOS market on ebay, etc. In fact, I met a guy at a local photo expo whose whole business is collecting and reselling old flashbulbs.

I bought a large set on ebay for my press camera and successfully temporarily blinded both of us by firing them in our small living room.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:19 PM on September 13 [4 favorites]


I only recently replaced the last HPIB/GPIB (IEEE 488) machine as well. Thank god I don't have to look for GPIB interface cards (and friggen drivers) anymore.

We still have a bunch of equipment that uses 9-pin D serial connectors though.
posted by bonehead at 1:20 PM on September 13


If I'm not wrong, IEEE 488 was one of the parents of SCSI was it not?
posted by bonehead at 1:26 PM on September 13


anyone remember Scorched Earth?

I still play Scorched Earth with friends from university at least once a month! We're going on close to 30 years of playing it. We don't live in the same city anymore, so we use DosBox and screen sharing software (TeamViewer) to play the game and Skype to talk.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:32 PM on September 13 [3 favorites]


IT WROTE JPGS TO FLOPPY DISKS! No more having to download pictures to a laptop to make more space. Just eject the full floppy disk and put in another. It was incredible. I suspect I still have it tucked in a drawer of similarly obsolete-but-groundbreaking-at-the-time tech.

My dad's favorite camera was our Sony Mavica. I think he even preferred it over his old 35mm film SLR camera. In an era of weird, expensive, and slow memory cards which needed special adapters to be read by a computer, nothing was more liberating than buying a fifty pack of 3.5inch floppies at Staples and just popping them in the camera. He had a camera bag that was full of floppies he'd use over and over again.

We tried upgrading to the one that wrote to mini-CDRs, but it just wasn't the same and by then the world had pretty much standardized on SD cards which pretty good but didn't really feel like "film" in the way that the 3.5in floppies felt like film.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:50 PM on September 13 [6 favorites]


Kind of curious what else falls into this category besides printers and floppy disks. Maybe plotter pens?

Old PBXes and key systems that just refuse to die. Only a year or two ago did we run out of parts for AT&T/Lucent/Avaya Partner II systems and find that the people who would refurb the cards had moved on to other things, necessitating a migration to cloud VoIP for a couple of clients.

We've still got one using a Nortel MICS, though. We still have a stack of line cards for the inevitable lightning strikes and a couple of boxes of spare phones for replacements as the old ones wear out and they've got zero interest in migrating. It's moved three times and at one point was integrated with a VoIP system to work around stupid expensive long distance charges, but we decommissioned the VoIP stuff when long distance became reasonably priced.

Luckily (or perhaps unluckily) the MICS can be programmed to be compliant with Kari's Law, so I don't have any leverage to push them to something more easily supportable. I can access it remotely for reprogramming, but the software doesn't run on anything newer than Windows XP.
posted by wierdo at 1:56 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


I only recently replaced the last HPIB/GPIB (IEEE 488) machine as well

I'm still using 488 stuff on my bench literally right now. The 36 year old HP 8753a we have even predates HP's inclusion of floppy drives on their equipment. Drivers aren't a huge deal eny more for us since we switched to the Prologix GPIB adapters. Everything looks like a serial port and Python doesn't care one way or another.
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:21 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


we decommissioned the VoIP stuff when long distance became reasonably priced

Man, am I out of the loop. I didn't know that long distance other than international was still a Thing.
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:31 PM on September 13 [2 favorites]


As of a few years ago, at least, CRT monitors were still in hot demand by research labs studying the neuroscience of vision. I think pretty much all manufacturers stopped making them some 10-15 years ago, but LCD/TFT monitors are not a good substitute. CRTs are great for vision research because you have extremely precise knowledge of when the photons are actually leaving the screen towards the eye, and they can be calibrated so that you also know the actual flux leaving the screen. The display works by sweeping an electron beam across a screen of phosphors, so the timing and intensity of the beam can be measured to much less than 1 millisecond of precision. If you're recording the activity of neurons in an early visual area like the lateral geniculate nucleus, the timing of when neurons actually fire action potentials can be synched to when the beam activates a particular part of visual space. By contrast, LCD monitors are much more complicated. Different parts of the display may refresh at different rates, and the actual slew rate for changing a pixel from white to black or back is slow, sometimes slower than the nominal refresh rate of the monitor. On conventional LCD screens, black is not truly black due to the backlight, which can wreak havoc with your ability to measure the sensitivity of a visual neuron. Newer so-called "LED" screens solve this by adjusting the backlighting, but for the study of vision this is even worse: the LED backlight is essentially an additional low-spatial-resolution component of the image that is controlled by some algorithm inside the display that you, as a researcher, have no knowledge of or control over.

So for many years I heard from my colleagues in visual neuroscience that anyone thinking of getting rid of old CRT monitors should set them aside, as even broken ones were worth trying to repair. I'm not sure if that's still true, as larger OLED monitors are starting to become viable, and I believe those have pretty good properties as far as pixel slew rates and being capable of proper calibration. But to this day, anyone who did any training in a vision lab that runs experiments with a computer display will often sheepishly acknowledge that they know the problems with their LCD monitors, myself included. Fortunately, once you get out of the early visual system, you can usually get away with it (he said, crossing his fingers). Anyway, the persistent value of CRTs for vision research is one of my favorite old-tech-is-still-in-use stories.
posted by biogeo at 2:38 PM on September 13 [15 favorites]


For extra fun, Android is Linux and has floppy drivers, so you can plug a USB floppy drive with an C-to-A adapter into your phone and, after gronking for many seconds, it will offer to store photos on the removable media device it has discovered.

Funnier fact: There's no such thing as a bootable CD, there's only CDs with an image of a bootable floppy disk stored inside them, in just the right place.

When you're booting an ISO off a USB stick, you are in fact bootstrapping your computer from a floppy disk, inside a CD or DVD image, itself inside the USB stick.
posted by mhoye at 2:45 PM on September 13 [26 favorites]


(Ah...back in the computer neolithic I worked with a guy who figured out how to put our proprietary UNIX distros on a 9-track tape. Involved writing both a boot loader, with a minimal set of utilities on it, and then a mountable filesystem image made with dd. Pretty clever.)
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 3:10 PM on September 13 [4 favorites]


This thread inspired me to check my Atari 130XE (the final 8bit atari, after the more popular 1200 & 800). I have it and 2 1560 Disk Drives, and a bunch (20?) of cartridges, and a floppy-based "Crossword MAGIC" by MINDSCAPE with a 7x8 inch booklet, all unused. I think there is also a trackball, and I have one working Atari joystick, for which I got a usb adapter.

The Atari was my home computer in the mid 1980s. I wrote bunches of FORTH for it.
posted by hexatron at 3:16 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


Speaking of the 1541. The joke I recall was that you could write code faster than it could read a disk.
posted by Splunge at 3:55 PM on September 13


hexatron, I'm very envious that you got Forth with your 130xe. I got my BASIC files off of mine using an adapter that let a CF card be plugged into the Atari as a pseudo-floppy drive.

In 2005, I bought my last floppy disks. And I did it while traveling to Germany. That was very weird. Stranger in a strange land paying what seemed too much for very bad quality late-era floppies. And very close to that time, we gave up on supporting booting the Debian installer from floppy disks; cramming the Linux kernel and enough software onto the boot disk stopped being feasible without more bother than it was worth.
posted by joeyh at 4:33 PM on September 13 [2 favorites]


I saw a pack of 10 at the local independent drugstore recently. Someone nearby is into embroidering, or has a sweet Roland MIDI file collection, or both.

It's underappreciated how much the disk drive would make or break a computer's fortune in the early days. In 1980, why would you even consider VisiCalc on anything but an Apple, with its light-speed disk controller (thanks to Woz) and drive that cost $595?

I also remember how magical it was when I finally got an OS capable of doing "other stuff" while reading from (or even formatting!) a floppy. I think it was either OS/2 or Linux.
posted by credulous at 5:57 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


What is the Netherlands doing wanting 500,000 floppy disks? Sounds like the premise for a worse-than-usual James Bond flick. Definitely keeping an eye open in that country's direction.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 7:11 PM on September 13 [4 favorites]


in probably 2001 my employer was trying to re-deploy a test platform for some experimental measurement technology (finding defects in a flowing polymer melt in a pipe) and determined that the software to run the widgetry would only run on win3.1. I happened to have a box (one of those burgundy plastic dysan fliptop ones) containing a copy of a 3.1 install set, and another box of blank media. I was the hero of the day, let me tell you.

my graduate thesis in 1997 was contained on about 6 floppies, in another one of those dysan boxes. one for text, one for appendices, one for data, three for image files. I remember taking that box of disks back to campus to print out my final copy and thinking if I lost the box I'd probably lose my mind and be found butt naked on the quad playing with my own poop.

I used to do polymerization reactor inspections during shutdowns with a polaroid to help wtih record keepign and I'd get bitched at if I used more than one package of 10 shots. Then we got one of those sony mavicas discussed above. Fucking GODSEND.
posted by hearthpig at 7:38 PM on September 13 [2 favorites]


But do you know what this scene is going to look like in another fifteen years, or even sooner?

Yup. I'll probably still be teaching people to do it then, though I'll also be thinking about retirement if I haven't already retired.

I was in on a grant-review round for a federal agency a couple months ago. No less than THREE apps on A/V digitization and media archaeology. The agency taps me for review because they know I know something about this. (Not everything; I am emphatically not foone. But something.)
posted by humbug at 8:00 PM on September 13


So for many years I heard from my colleagues in visual neuroscience that anyone thinking of getting rid of old CRT monitors should set them aside, as even broken ones were worth trying to repair.

To my mind, new (hobbyist-scale) production of CRTs is a question of when, not if. They were so pervasive, for so long, and really do have properties that newer screens can't duplicate. In addition to general retrocomputing, there's also a high demand for CRT tv screens in competitive video game subcultures. Very interesting to hear about the use case in vision research.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:52 PM on September 13 [4 favorites]


hexatron, did you learn to program FORTH ON THE ATARI while wearing a space helmet and gloves and speedo and epic mustache?

biogeo - my understanding is that the large OLED monitors are RGB LCD filters over a white LED matrix, so they will also have the switching delays and multi-factor latencies. Only the small OLED phone-sized screens are actually made of individual RGB LEDs.
posted by autopilot at 8:54 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]


Another interesting case is Nixie tubes, which re-started small scale production a few years back. Turns out, someone still had a practical use for them, once they were available again: calibration of high speed cameras
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:58 PM on September 13 [3 favorites]


my understanding is that the large OLED monitors are RGB LCD filters over a white LED matrix, so they will also have the switching delays and multi-factor latencies

I am not a tv designer, but my understanding is that in a standard oled panel the filter is fixed, not switching, and that there's an individual led for each subpixel. Newer qdoled panels replace the filters with quantum dots.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:09 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure I have a 3.5 usb reader in the basement. Not sure if it works on modern systems, driver driver driver.
posted by sammyo at 4:16 AM on September 14


If it's like the one I've seen, it'd be a standard USB Mass Storage device, and would not need a driver. If it needs a driver, somebody messed up somewhere.
posted by acb at 4:33 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


That makes much more sense, GCU, I had misunderstood the hand wavy explanation about OLED displays. Many "fun" colored LEDs are also filtered that way too, since there isn't a band gap for pink or whatever.
posted by autopilot at 5:24 AM on September 14


What a great interview to read. It's always lovely to hear from someone who knows his shit inside and out
posted by ellerhodes at 5:46 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


If it's like the one I've seen, it'd be a standard USB Mass Storage device, and would not need a driver. If it needs a driver, somebody messed up somewhere.

Once upon a time a common mistake, when you were crafting the floppy image you needed to put in the right place on the cd to make the cd bootable, was forgetting to add the drivers for the cd drive. So your machine’s bios would spin up the cdrom, load the floppy image off it and load that little DOS operating system up, which would in turn…. Not know how to use the cdrom drive, and fail with a very hard-to-wrap-your-head-around error.
posted by mhoye at 5:46 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


I learned to program FORTH on a TI99/A. Before even getting GWBasic[1] Commodore Basic at school. Not having a stack was deeply weird for the first few weeks of classwork.

[1] Didn't get GWBasic until later years in High School, when the PET/CBMs were replaced.
posted by bonehead at 8:12 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


well, given this lack of resilience and redundancy for the supply of this item, it must be for whimsical, non-critical uses like.....

(checks notes)

medical devices and airplane software

nope nothing to worry about here, nosireee


A lot of the cases he cited are legacy stuff. Airplanes that are 20 years old are already two-thirds of the way through their lifespan, for example: floppies being part of their workflow is manageable because they've only got about another ten years of service left. Basically it's the very last generation of planes that was manufactured with floppies in mind ending their runs.

The big issue, from a tech standpoint, is when you get hardware that's built well enough that they can be reasonably used on an ongoing basis well beyond the lifespan contemplated to planned obsolescence via upgrade. The sewing machines he mentioned are your primary example here: they were planned when they were built to age out as new data transfer systems came online (IE, similar sewing machines built now use USB transfers, and USB should be the standard for a long time going forward because it's adaptable and can effectively transfer any amount of data). But third world sweatshops don't want to spend money to upgrade their sewing machines, and the machines are built well enough that they don't need to do so until the floppies aren't available any more.
posted by mightygodking at 8:21 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


To my mind, new (hobbyist-scale) production of CRTs is a question of when, not if.

Eh, I think the hobbyist scale is overestimated. I just had to get rid of 4 large good quality CRT monitors in Southern CA, and ultimately gave 3 away for free and gave the smallest to Goodwill (thank god they took it for recycling!). Nobody would pay even $1 for them, and the guy who took 3 only wanted 1 but my wife cajoled him into taking them. Are there uses for them? Sure, but that audience is shrinking dramatically.

VHS video tapes is my guess on what product will have a single market keeping it alive for the next 50 years. Their use case is far wider than old computer tech.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:30 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


I mentioned replacing the IEEE 488 equipment above. What we replaced those cables with was an 8P8C/"RJ45" ethernet connection. So in the decade from 2000-2010, the connection standard for much lab equipment moved from the late 1960s to the early 1980s specs.

We're still using ethernet connections today and for the foreseeable future. I've seen very little USB lab equipment for example (and what there is is often a huge pain in the arse to use). Even things like temperature and humidity loggers are mostly TCP/IP devices---so that they can hook into the larger industrial/lab networks. A network server arrangement works really well with lab equipment and automated data backup and logging requirements.
posted by bonehead at 9:02 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


There are a few companies that specialize in CRT repair/salvage for critical applications. They do sell new CRTs, I assume much of them is new-old stock, especially the tube itself. (There's an interview which I plan to watch at some point.)
posted by credulous at 9:04 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


A big problem now is that a lot of hardware emulators require Compact Flash cards, and a lot of them are picky about size. They want small cards, 1 or 2gb at most. Those cards are starting to be harder to find and unreliable with age.

We'll find a way for the reliability of contemporary SSD to sit in that 1-2GiB allocation.

But but butbutbutbut OMFG it's today I find that one of my "Internet Heroes" is "MeFi's Own™" and there's etckeeper/git stash/sharded encryption keys/debian-installer joeyh mentioning the deprecation of floppy installer images for debian. So much fanperson, so many thankyou.
posted by k3ninho at 2:23 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


This is a great interview! As a fellow business owner who works in the long "dying" industry of physical media, I salute you! I particularly like this quote:
“Why are you into floppy disks today?” the answer is: “Because I forgot to get out of the business.”
Speaking of VHS, here's an article about a guy who sells VHS and still makes money.

The article also comes on a day when an IT person for my shipping provider gave me a panicky phone call telling me that the old software and the Windows XP computer it runs on were outdated and the server that services that software was finally shut down that I needed to upgrade ASAP. I held on to it because the software could be used WITHOUT a connection to the Internet which was handy during the recent Rogers outage here in Canada. I felt bad for the young IT person trying to get a parallel port device (a scale in this case) and a serial port device (a thermal printer) to play nicely with more recent technology. And I did feel very old explaining to this person what a parallel port was.
posted by Ashwagandha at 2:23 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Also from Japan, this story from less than a year ago about Tokyo ward offices starting to phase out floppies. In the case of Meguro ward, only because their bank had instituted a surcharge for handling floppies. Bear in mind that Tokyo's ward offices are equivalent to city halls for mid-sized American cities.

I'd shake my head at the craziness of this if it were not for the fact that probably half of the formal documentation I've gotten from the city, state and federal government in America looks to me like they have photocopied things that were mimeographed first.
posted by srboisvert at 9:48 AM on September 15


My marriage certificate, obtained from the courthouse in a major American city, was printed out on a standard consumer printer, with a "watermark" that is a low-resolution image of the city seal blown up to fit the size of the page, such that the pixels are several millimeters in size. And they spelled the name of the city wrong. If for some reason I ever need to prove that my wife and I are married, no one is going to believe that it's an actual official marriage certificate and not a bad fake.
posted by biogeo at 10:09 AM on September 15 [4 favorites]


They do sell new CRTs, I assume much of them is new-old stock, especially the tube itself.

Surely it's only a matter of time before someone (perhaps the Czech guy who makes nixie tubes) starts a factory to make premium-priced artisanal CRTs for discerning connoisseurs.
posted by acb at 7:11 AM on September 16


Has anyone bought those USB floppy drives off Amazon or ebay?

If you're only reading 1.44 MB floppies, they're fine. For anything else, though, you'll need the more expensive ones sold by the company in the article. The really cheap ones have a hard physical mapping between data pointers and head/tracks, so if a floppy isn't 100% vanilla, the cheap drives give up.

The one unobtainium I'm currently trying to source: JEIDA/PCMCIA 2.0 SRAM (not Flash) card, ≤ 1 MB capacity. 30 years ago, I had a drawer full of these for talking to data loggers. Now I have none, but I need one, and it seems the one use for them (outside the one I have, for an Amstrad NC100) is in CNC machines, so they go for monstrous money.

Weirdest niche old computer use? There are certain very expensive (8 digits when new) offset printing machines that can only be controlled from certain Mac G4 towers. If you've got more than a couple of exactly the right model, the guy will drive to you (anywhere in North America) and pay you very reasonable cash for them. Someone I knew ran the IT side of a photo bureau, and was a bit of a packrat. He made out rather well on those old G4s (plus he got to keep a Mac tower and the nicest drum scanner in the world). He also had essentially a complete office from 2001, including matched monitors, printers and phones. Sold the lot to a prop house.

Artisanal monitors will be hard. Miners breathed a sigh of relief when they didn't have to dig up rare yttrium minerals for CRT phosphors any more.
posted by scruss at 1:58 PM on September 18


While the scale is nowhere near when they were mass-market items, retro gaming has a lot of use for CRTs, both because they have zero display lag (other than waiting for the screen to refresh at 60/50Hz), and if you want to get an old arcade machine running again you need some relatively exotic types, since they often don't have the standard television aspect ratio. And working vectorscan monitors in particular, are hard to find and may be completely dying out.

Those Commodore 1541 floppy drives were wild. They were basically a little computer of their own, including a 6502 CPU similar to the host computer. Way more powerful than you would have expected for a peripheral.

Ahem (Previously on MeFi)

Someone said above how fast a disk drive was being a factor in the success of an 8-bit computer, and I'm not going to outright dispute that, but remember that the C64's drive was notoriously slow and expensive yet that machine still became the best-selling 8-bit microcomputer because the main unit was so cheap. C64s were cheaper to buy than the 1541 disk drive. They were so slow that nearly every commercial product for the C64 had to use some kind of fastloader. I hated those things.

When we talk about what's possible and what's successful for the era, it's often useful to remember that we're talking about what was economical to manufacture at scale and sell. If you don't care about money, you could have made a lot of unexpected things back then. Build a computer to work solely as a disk drive? That's what Commodore did.
posted by JHarris at 2:08 PM on September 18


...and then they nobbled it, reducing the parallel IEE-488 interface to a serial one to cut manufacturing costs (presumably not astronomical ones, on a premium device for those willing to pay for something better than cassette tapes).

It's like the decision to replace the SID chip with a simple beeper in the Plus-4, because fancy audio would make it look frivolous and unbusinesslike.
posted by acb at 2:55 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


For sale, DLT drive...SCSI connectors...cheap!

Heh. I still have my old UMAX flatbed scanner, complete with SCSI cables and absolutely nothing to hook them into. Shame, too. That’s a really good scanner.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:57 PM on September 18


Aren't there any USB-SCSI interfaces that are sufficiently intelligent/flexible to recognise various types of devices and present them as the respective USB devices?
posted by acb at 3:01 PM on September 18


And working vectorscan monitors in particular, are hard to find and may be completely dying out.

Happily, any CRT can be a vector monitor by just changing the electronics driving the thing. Color screens wouldn't make good vector screens, but I bet there are still warehouses full of NOS monitors sitting around getting dusty that would work fine if all you needed was the tube itself. The electronics get sad after a couple of decades rotting away in a humid warehouse, but the tubes are a lot more robust to poor storage conditions.

I'm somewhat surprised nobody has come up with an open source driver circuit to drive some of the more common bare CRTs yet. If I ran one of the board prototyping services, I'd give a serious think to at least partially funding the development of such a project. The hobbyists that use those kinds of services eat that sort of stuff up.
posted by wierdo at 6:30 PM on September 18


Aren't there any USB-SCSI interfaces that are sufficiently intelligent …?

Adaptec stopped making USB-SCSI adapters in the early part of this century. The few people who need 'em really need 'em, and they go for silly money still.

wierdo - Trammell Hudson made the open source v.st board vector controller. Vector scan only works with some CRTs, so the market is small
posted by scruss at 6:55 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


I was in need of hooking up some SCSI hard drives earlier this year, and after some research came to conclusion that the easiest thing was to get a SCSI PCI card and put it in a slightly older computer I had lying around. If I hadn't had an older computer lying around already, I probably would have bought one for the purpose. The USB-SCSI space is surprisingly, shockingly underserved.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:51 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


Could you bit-bang SCSI with a microcontroller?
posted by acb at 2:33 AM on September 19


Yes, but the demand has been for drive emulation, not interface emulation. Examples: BlueSCSI, ZuluSCSI.
posted by scruss at 3:32 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


I know technology moves on, but you can have my zip disk when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

Sorry, I meant you can have my dead zip disk when you pry it from my cold dead hands.


I mean, that's every Zip disk, as far as I can tell, even the ones that you can get "new" (or at least unused) off of Amazon these days.

We actually used the floppy drives on our old Windows 95 and Windows NT computers in one of my previous labs because they were much more reliable than Zip disks, despite the resulting limits on file sizes. The instruments controlled by the ancient computers were chugging along, but couldn't be upgraded to deal with modern software on a modern OS (and we didn't want to spend a huge amount of money replacing functioning instruments until necessary), so we just kept the old desktops running too, albeit offline.
posted by ASF Tod und Schwerkraft at 6:06 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


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