That Takes Me Back

Unearthed by Krissy today during one of her occasional purges of the house: A floppy disc! From the mid-90s! Which I used, if I recall correctly, to shuffle text documents between my computer at home and the one at America Online, where I worked at the time. None of my current computers has a floppy disc drive (basically for the same reason none of them have a way to accept data from cassettes), which is a shame because on this disc is MY LOST MASTERPIECE OF A NOVEL.

Or, various marketing documents I was working on circa 1996. One or the other. Really, it was hard to tell the difference back then. My marketing documents are just that good. But in any event there are no real worries as to me not having any of the stuff I wrote all the way back then, as I’m really rather OCD about squirreling away old creative endeavors in multiple places. So I pretty much have everything I’ve ever written, three or four times over, and again whenever a new storage medium comes along. Because when it comes to electronic storage media, eventually they all go the way of Mr. Shuttle Disc 1 here, don’t they.

(Also: No lost masterpieces. Sorry.)

The real irony of this disc is that the amount of memory you can write to it (1.44 MB, if memory — heh —  serves) isn’t enough to store the jpeg of the picture of it which came out of my camera (1.49 MB). That’s progress for you.

90 Comments on “That Takes Me Back”

  1. 1.44 MB? That’s nothing! I remember hot-rodding my disks to get 2 megs out of ’em.
    But yeah, the whole “picture-of-a-disk-is-bigger-than-everything-inside” is a total mind****.

  2. I work for state government and received a floppy disc full of data from a rural county last month. I can’t even read it either–which I guess makes it even more secure :) Apparently when we asked for the data on a disc, they went floppy, not compact.

  3. I remember 5.25 floppy disks and cassettes. Sometimes floppy disk can be useful to get data off ancient PCs that don’t have working USB on them (I’m looking at you, Irix).

  4. When we were cleaning out the desk I’m sitting at now, prior to my taking it with me, we found all sorts of interesting things. Some were floppy disks such as the one you found, which we no longer have any ability to read. We also found some original floppy disks (you know the ones) for, as I recall, a PGA Tour Golf game. Suffice it to say, we have no way of accessing the data on those either.

  5. You should sign and auction off things like this. “How much would you pay for a possible missing Scalzi manuscript?” Fans, geeks and charity all win.

  6. In my first attempt at college, my data processing (Wow! That dates me, doesn’t it?) teacher showed me an 8-inch floppy. It was a museum piece.

  7. Oh, man, yeah, that’s nostalgia in a little plastic package, there. I used to call mine “Shuttle,” too.

  8. People reading this should think to themselves….

    In 20 years the CDs (or even data dvds) I have all my files stored on will be like that floppy disk.

    Regardless of how long the data lasts, the devices we use to read the data don’t last forever.

    So no one should assume we can store our cds in boxes in the attic and our kids will be able to retrieve the data years from now.

    There are definite advantages to paper records.

    Now think about all the libraries you read about that are getting rid of the books or destroying the microfilm once they’ve digitized the records.

  9. Somewhere, I have a box of disks this size formatted for a Mac. One of them has versions of my resume from when I graduated from college. That would make it over twenty years old. The other disks probably have class assignments on them or something similar.

  10. Weeeeird. I hadn’t thought about it, but I have some floppy disks left over from college, which wasn’t *that* (coughcough) long ago…

    Or was it? O_o

  11. Cassettes? Ha! Flashback to my TI 99-4/A. The modem like noise as I saved or loaded a program from a cassette recorder. As I recall that machine had 16KB of RAM.

    Damn kids, get off my lawn.

  12. My roommate has a ton of those things. Of course he also has a computer that can read them. Let’s just say he’s not a “cutting edge” kind’a guy.

  13. My own OCD (or anal if it serves you better) attitude to data has meant that I’ve gone out of my way to have one computer with a floppy drive still in it. And, yes, I do have an old 5 1/4″ drive stored away just in case I ever need it. Thank you for asking.

  14. It reminds me of the labelless can at the Kik-e-Mart freak show. Who knows what was in that can – diamonds? – dog food?

    Something man is just not suppose to know.

  15. My mom still has (and occasionally uses) her old digital camera that stores the pictures on a floppy. Sister and I tried to get her to upgrade when she got her computer without a floppy drive…she went and bought a reader that hooks up via USB instead.

    I remember the angst the insufficient amount of memory caused me back in middle school when a powerpoint presentation was too big to fit on one.

  16. I take issue with your spelling of “disk”.

    Magnetic media is “disk”, optical is “disc”. I’m not sure why this happened. You knew this back in the 90s when you wrote the label, apparently. :)

  17. I threw away a large box of those ten years ago. Some of them, I rescued the data. I still have all files containing various lame attempts at fiction I made when I was just out of college.

    Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) they are all in an old Word Perfect format, and I am unable to read them.

  18. TransDutch @10 writes: Regardless of how long the data lasts, the devices we use to read the data don’t last forever.

    Preach it, brother!

    New guests invariably do a double-take when they realize that several of my systems sport a 3.5″ FDD. “What’s that do?”¹ and “Why do you have more than one?”² are among the top five local FAQs.

    So no one should assume we can store our cds in boxes in the attic and our kids will be able to retrieve the data years from now.
    Heck, no one should assume the ability to store crucial data on a single disc for one measly month, let alone years. Especially not if kids are part of the environment.³

    There are definite advantages to paper records.
    True, but paper records⁴ take a back seat to the book collection. Oh, wait a minute…

      1. How many BIOS upgrade procedures still start with “Copy the image to be flashed and This_Program onto a bootable medium…”?

      2. Redundancy (see TransDutch’s first point). Three additional words: head alignment tolerance.

      3. “Hey, neat coaster! What is it?” “It used to be data, thanks for asking.”

      4. Stop me before I mention punched tape archives!

  19. That’s why I make sure to have a working dead media drive around somewhere. I still have a Zip-drive (remember those?), a 3 1/2” and – gasp – a 5 1/4” drive in working condition (well, I haven’t actually checked the 5 1/4” recently). My old data type drive seems to have given up the ghost, though.

  20. Got a disk like that around here from 1986 (it might be 720Kb), for a Mac Plus, that has Pagemaker I on it — the whole app, and some work files. It’s over by the stack of Zip disks. What I don’t have from the old days are Syquest (20MB) and Bernoulli (80MB) cartridges.

    Hopefully, in 20 years, our holographic avatars will store and retrieve all this stuff for us.

  21. I did lose a Lost Masterpiece of a Novel when, believing I had copied over everything from the Old Computer, I purged its harddrive and got rid of it. Then I found some files I was looking for were nowhere to be found.


  22. Ahhh, sneakernet. I never called it a shuttle,
    just a packet in the sneakernet.

    Back in 2001, my brother and I cleaned out our
    late parents’ home so he could renovate. I
    uncovered a bunch of cards, greenbar paper,
    (remember?) and notes….all remnants of
    Dad’s classes at Computer Learning Center
    in an attempt to learn programming so he could
    (possibly) leave Civil Engineering behind. He’d
    been injured, you see, and had to retire from the
    State Dept. As I read through his notes and the
    programs he’d typed on greenbar paper, I got
    the distinct impression he was bored out of his
    skull. No wonder he went to work for Fairfax County as an engineer after the Computer
    Learning bit.

    What cracks me up, though, is when people hear
    me recognise Job Control Language (the
    commands on the punch cards). It’s a mixture
    of delight and horror. Eh – to me it was just
    another language than I needed in order to
    make the IBM 30-whatever-it-was roll over
    and play nice. I never used it on punch cards
    but I did fill files with it.

    Even if you had the right drive to exhume
    data from the media – you’d still have to
    interpret wit the correct protocol.

    My sympathies, John.

  23. In fifty years my great-grandkids will be reading the Scalzi books in my library. Somehow I don’t think that’ll be the case with any Kindle or Nook or iSlate books…

    There’s still nothing better than an actual book for long-term storage and accessibility.

  24. The first digicam I ever saw in person used a 3.5″ floppy disk to store the images. You could get like, 6 of them in there, and as you’d imagine it took about 10 seconds for it to store it after taking a shot. We’ve come a loooong way since then.

  25. Somewhat pertaining to the conversation is a picture,which I seem to have lost, of one gig of memory from today compared to 1980.

    1 Gig today is a small chip on the end of the presenter’s finger.

    1980 version was a stack of magnetic platters about the size of a microwave oven.

    I happen to have 80 gig in my shirt pocket right now courtesy of my i Pod.

    While I also have memories of an IBM 360 and stacks of punch cards, I really prefer living in the future as I do now. The trials and tribulations involved with all that punch card psychoses is what pushed me toward physics, electronics and the hardware side of things rather than software.

    I’m OK with that.

  26. My PC is six years old, but it still has a built-in disk reader! At the time I made sure I had it when I bought the tower because, even though it had already gone obsolete back then, I figured you’d never know when you might need one.

    Too bad I’ve never used it once. Darn.

  27. If you resaved the image to decrease the quality a little bit, it might be 1.44MB exactly, and then… I dunno.

  28. My wife, a court reporter, still uses them, to transfer stenotype files from her steno machine to her laptop for transcribing. Had to buy an external FDD for the laptop. Of course, you can now buy a steno machine that uses SD cards for storage and transfer, that also has USB ports for either direct connection to the laptop or for a thumb drive, and I bet that Wi-Fi is just around the corner – but at $5k for a new machine, well, floppies work just fine, thanks…

    Along the lines of the “photo of the disk requires more memory than the disk has” – when I worked at AT&T Bell Labs in the 90s, we joked that the PCs on our desks had more memory and processing power than the electronic switches that ran the long-distance network. Of course, now our cellphones have more memory and processing power than the switches…

  29. My husband still has the first version of DOS, his first laptop (it weighs a ton), and other computer things that are very old. I finally threw away all the floppies, without him noticing. I’m sure there are others he has squirreled away. I think he wants to open his own computer museum some day.

    We also own five up-to-date computers, nine iPods, various external hard drives, and other storage devices. Where do I plug my brain in?

  30. I’ve got rolls of ASR33 (teletype) paper tape for a multiplayer STARTREK game from 1975 for an HP minicomputer. One row of dots per byte and it’s you’re turn to chase the tape across the floor of the computer lab.!

  31. Man, I saw “shuttle” and thought you had the controls to the space shuttle on there. Now that would be cooooool.

  32. Now we need a 750mb picture of a CD. If anyone wants to do a 1.1tb picture of a hard drive though, they’re more than welcome.

  33. When I built my new computer last Autumn, I took the floppy drive from my old one out and installed it just in case I needed to use any of the several dozen 3.5″ diskettes stored above my desk… I considered buying a new one, as the old drive is beige while my new computer is matte black, but that would’ve cost more (as I’d have had to place a special order for one) than the DVD+/-RW drive.

    The mind reels; 1.44Mb of storage now costs more than 4.3Gb. (Does this mean that it’s an antique?)

    — Steve

  34. Eviljwinter;

    When I went back to school, we used a mini with 2 8-inch drives to run some of the drafting software. It wasn’t a museum piece, it was a functional machine in our computer lab. (No food or drinks, please, and wear these anti-static booties while you’re in here.)

  35. I remember as a small child being taken by my dad to an open day at London Airport (He’d been part of the tram installing a new air traffic control system)
    We were shown the computer(s?) which were all taller than me….
    No idea what memory etc they had, but I guess my £15 phone probably has more!

  36. My dad’s work had a collection PDPs which I gawked over because poor me only had a CoCo2.

    I’m old. My lawn. Off it.

  37. If anyone wants to do a 1.1tb picture of a hard drive though, they’re more than welcome.

    The way things are going, just give it a few years and it could happen.

  38. I once received a complimentary copy of an internet magazine (yes, it was a printed magazine about the internet) where the cover model wore a dress made up of free floppy disks from AOL and various ISPs. It was like the gold card dress Lizzy Gardiner wore to the Oscars. Quite fetching.

    These days you’d have to scrounge to make up a disk bikini.

  39. If you *really* want to see what’s on that disk, shoot me an e-mail. I have a a few 1.44″ drives in computers up on cinderblocks in the front yard and could ship you one.

  40. TransDutch @10 writes: Regardless of how long the data lasts, the devices we use to read the data don’t last forever.

    This is why I resisted digital cameras for so long. When I ran a museum I had no difficulty finding someone who could make prints from 150-year-old glass plate negatives, but all of the records previous directors had put onto those 1.44-meg discs were effectively lost.

  41. Mel @35: The idea of a 1.44-Mb disk 100% occupied with a file that’s an image of itself… it’s obviously a gateway into another dimension heretofore unexplored. Go for it, man.

    (Reminds me of the first time I saw video feedback – where the monitor shows the input to the video camera that’s aimed at the monitor.)

  42. My erstwhile employer built part of its first membership database on a key-to-disk (8″ floppy disk) IBM S/32, which we then transported back to home base and uploaded to the S/34 that was used for all office functions for the next nine years. And every day that S/34 was backed up to five 8″ floppies.

  43. I asked for some data from a set of low tech businesses I work with (but made sure they all had computers first).

    One sent me a floppy disk, not realizing that the file was too large and I got a slightly corrupt file containing 40% of the data. Oops.

    One sent me the printouts. When that failed, they sent me a pdf of the printouts.

    Needless to say, we all send flash drives. And make sure they know where the USB port is.

  44. I have worked with all of the following:
    Punch cards
    Teletype/ paper tape
    Magnetic tape
    8″, 5 1/4″, 3 1/2″ floppies
    ZIP drives
    Removable hard drives
    Jump drives

    I am spearheading an attempt to get all our local newspapers duplicated from original paper and microfilm to digital format. Our library has the most complete run of the local paper, including the newspaper office itself, and should a disaster strike, the whole thing would be jeopardized. If we have it stored electronically, it’s much easier to back up elsewhere in multiple copies. Our microfilm readers are slowly dying, and the film itself rots eventually (our storage room smells like potato salad from the acetic acid). Better to have it in a transferrable medium before both the readers and records decay beyond use.

  45. Ah memories. Found a box of those the other day in a storage box.

    I keep an old laptop that has a 3.5″ FDD, will accept the serial cable for my zip drive and a single USB port. So I can transfer whatever I’ve had to open in the older storage media to the shiney new desktop.

    Every once in a while you have to go back to the future via sneakerware to retrieve things.

    When I was teaching basic computing skills to non-techie types, I’d bring in a pile of salvaged floppy & hard drives of varying sizes to pass around to the students. They had a hard time getting over the bigger is better and holds more issue and it was pretty funny.

  46. Somewhere I have a plastic bag filled with my boot floppies, from when I had to move memory around to play certain games on my old 386.

    Good times, good times.

  47. I actually just switched from a computer that had a floppy drive (bought five years ago) to a laptop that doesn’t. I hadn’t used them in four years and when I tried to get the data off them my computer couldn’t read them…

  48. cool pic!

    I have a working Commodore 64 down in the basement. Sort of had a plan to do something music-related with it a while back, but hasn’t materialized yet and I’m kind of doubtful at this point.

    If you’ve ever typed load “program”, 8,1 wave your nerd flag.

  49. #58 – I’ve got a couple of C64s, plus a C64C, a Tandy CoCo3 (new in box), a Tandy Model 102 (new in box), an Apple //GS (with 4MHz TransWarp GS accelerator, woo!), and an Amiga 1000. Ahem. Haven’t decided which vintage Atari 8-bit I’m going to add to the collection. Probably the venerable Atari 800.

    It’s a decided odd experience to open a Tandy CoCo3 or Model 102 and smell that ‘new plastic’ scent. Almost brought a tear to my eye.

    I’d _really_ like to get an IMSAI 8080 machine tricked out like the one in WarGames, not to mention a Curta Calculator, but they’re way beyond my financial means at the moment.

    And an HP 16C calculator to pair with my 11C.

    Yeah, I’m a geek.

  50. #36 mentions the digital telephone switches, they had 512 bytes (16 256×1 chips, I forget the 7400 number perhaps 74200). I built the first prototype for Automatic Electric in 73. The memory was for data, the actual program was hard wired into the device with an 8 phase clock.

    PDP-8 with paper, actually mylar tape.

    In television the exchange media for character generators were 8″ hard sectored floppies, ceasing only when the disk became unavailable.

    Television was recorded on 2″ tape and there are still huge archives of that media, but almost no working machines.

  51. I still type on an IBM Model M keyboard! It was manufactured in (let me stop typing to check the underside) 1985. And the action on every key is smooth as it was when the keyboard was new.

    They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

    I also have a folder on my big RAID array filled with dozens of images of floppy disks, just in case I ever want to do something with them.

  52. When I was first hired at my current place of employment one of the Very Important pieces of equipment only used the 5.25″ size disks. This was only six years ago. Each person needed their own disk and the station had had to purchase more off of eBay.

    That was used for about another year before we got an all new control room and the old room has since been slowly falling into disrepair.

  53. You can buy an external 3.5 floppy drive that attaches to your computer by a USB port, if you really want to get at the data.

    I have one, but haven’t used it much because plugging in all those floppies and transfering the data is just such a tiresome job.

    Also, the text files are all in ancient word processing programs that don’t run on current computers.

  54. Love ’em or hate ’em they are the ONLY way to move data (sneaker net) from a client laptop onto a DOD computer/network. Once the new rules took effect, Det OIC’s (for example) couldn’t upload an admin message, etc. off a thumbdrive. So, lesson learned; don’t toss out old tech too quickly. They’re ugly but safe.

  55. Ah floppies. My first drive was for a SWTP6800 circa 1978. 90k, 5 1/4″. That was actually a step up. The orginal storage device was a cassette tape drive. First game – Startrek, of course. Still have the system in the basement. 32K of RAM ( who could possibly need more ).

    Now I walk around with a cell that is fully net capable, has a 8GB memory card and has a built in GPS. From my SWTP kit in Feb 1978 to today. About 31 years! Praying to last long enough to be uploaded! Faster please! Faster please!

  56. OK, in reading over the posts I will issue a challenge. The oldest computer I ever worked on/programed/used was the targeting computer in a Minute Man II Missile. It had, I think, 64 bytes of core memory. Yes, honest to goodness, little ferite core memory bits. It used a large rotating platter for larger storage requirements. That would have been the fall of 1976. Long ago, far away. :) Any takers??

  57. Oldest computing instrument/toy I owned and played with was a 1972 Logix 0-600. It was “programmed” with little bits of wire, “ran” programs by sliding the plastic levers, and “output” the data by lighting up little light bulbs behind tissue-paper stencils. It had, probably, about 0.01k of ROM, or less.

  58. #68. My oldest computer: a Bendix G-15D. Main memory was drum with about 2200 words of memory (29 bits each). I started programming it about 1960.

    #59. I have an IMSAI 8080 in the basement (with 8-inch floppy drives). I originally used cassette tape storage but moved when floppy drives appeared. I haven’t used it in years and I’d be surprised if it still works, especially the floppy drives. For a while I took to for show and tell in programming classes.

  59. 68 W.Keller – WIMP!!!
    I worked for IBM Cambridge Scientific Center (now dearly departed) and worked on their first commercial virtual memory systems – 360 model 67 – with (gasp!) 2 processors and 2 MB of memory – and also a 1620, which I wrote an app for Decision Tree construction and folding. Also worked on some pre-360 systems (709 and 7090 if I recall correctly) while a student at MIT in the early ’60s.
    Memories, indeed!

  60. Another irony: You worked at AOL yet bought a floppy instead of reformatting one of their ubiquitous “Free Minutes” floppies.

    I heard about someone retiling their bathroom with them once. Then the CDs took over and I always had a coaster for my drink.

  61. I remember having OS, program (Visicalc – the original spreadsheet), and data all on a 100k 5.25″ floppy. Single sidded, single density.

    Back then I had a 300BPS modem, now a 15MB fios connection. 1.75MHz 8-bit CPU, now a 2.66GHz 64-bit i7. Things change. They change a lot!

  62. I still have a box of unused 80 column punch cards. Good for semi-permanent notes, because they’re stiffer than paper and very light weight. Maybe I should hawk them on E-Bay as curios. $1 each, or something.

  63. I have a netscape 1.0 floppy from back in ’95 when i was getting paid 75 dollars a house call to hook macs up using slip and they are running 7.5 or earlier and don’t have MacTCP. Horrible lesson to teach a college student: pirating control panels and that you can make big bucks just by reading the manual. Someday that disk will be worth enough that i can retire someplace that doesn’t have 2 feet of snow on the ground.

  64. Well, I programmed one of these:

    when I was in college – the IBM 407 Accounting Machine, introduced in 1949, was long obsolete when I entered college, but the previous programmer taught me how to use and program it before he retired, and it was still used to produce the schedule of which classes occurred on which days, in what classrooms. IIRC, there were 8 different control panels used for the complete job of producing the classroom schedule.

    Input was a deck of cards describing the class (class number, instructor id, instructor type, and room requirements, etc.), another deck of cards describing the rooms available (room capacity, room id, hours available for instruction, room location, special features, etc.), and a third deck that had instructor information (name, instructor id, office location, hours available for instruction, office hours, and “priority”, with higher priority individuals given preference for rooms closer to their offices, and more desirable instruction times).

    Output was done on the built-in line printer, and gave class name, meeting dates and times, room location(s), instructor name and office hours, plus whatever else the users of the report wanted. It’s been 30 years, so I’ve forgotten some of the details.

    Needless to say, once I had the task of producing the schedule, I never had the need to run across campus to get to my next class.

    I really did have to program it, as the number of classes, and the number of rooms available, changed from semester to semester. Well, that, and I had to modify the program to give me the best class schedule, one of the perks of the job.

    I used it from the spring of 1980 through the fall of 1982, so I’m just a youngster, but it might be the oldest piece of computing equipment used by anyone posting here, as it was 30+ years old when I used it, 30 years ago.

    Before I left, I wrote a program for the new campus mainframe (Honeywell DPS-8) that performed the same operation – instead of three days of reading cards, swapping control panels, and reading other cards, it took about 3 minutes to do the whole job, going from several input databases

    I’ve still got some IBM 8 inch single sided, single density floppies lying about from some of the other IBM gear, but all my old paper tape PDP-8E programs are long gone, as are all my punched cards.

  65. ~~~ The real irony of this disc is that the amount of memory you can write to it (1.44 MB, if memory — heh – serves) ~~~

    You don’t write memory to a disc. You write data to a disc.

  66. I was disappointed when AOL switched to CDs, I found their disks were the only disks that were reliable, and I had a dozen in circulation by the end.

  67. Anyone remember the 5.25″ floppies, where you would take a hole-puncher and make a little notch in the side, about an inch from the top? That was the way you made them read/write. And if you didn’t want anyone to write over your data? Put some tape over the hole.

    Read/write security permissions have changed since then…

  68. If I’m remembering my frustration level correctly, I think the picture-of-the-floppy would have to be more along the lines of 1.3MB instead, once the disk was formatted.

    I had lots of those cartoon-swearing moments at work when “just one more file!” was not going to get on the disk.

  69. When I was an intern in a biological lab at NIH in the 1980s, I used a pen plotter that could read data off 8-inch floppies. They looked like the 5 1/4-inch ones, only bigger, and I don’t think they had the write-protect notch. I don’t think they were widely used for long, if ever.

    I also remember the big removable hard disk packs they used on Honeywell/Bull mainframes in the seventies, that had a stack of huge platters, maybe two feet wide, that you handled in a smoked plastic case that looked like a futuristic dish cover.

  70. I worked for Otrona Advanced Systems in 1980, helping develop the Attache luggable computer- Z80 processor at a screaming 4 MHz, 64K of ram, two count ’em TWO 360k 5-1/2″ floppy drives. I was employee #2… Niven & Pournelle wrote a big part of Footfall on an Attache. Seems like another lifetime.

    When I Was A Boy

    Copyright © 1997 by Frank Hayes, Firebird Arts & Music (BMI)

    When I was a boy our Nintendo
    Was carved from an old Apple tree
    And we used garden hose to connect it
    To our steam-powered color tv.

    But it still beat that ancient Atari
    ‘Cuz I almost went blind, don’tcha know,
    Playing Breakout and Pong on a video game
    Hooked up to the radio.

    And we walked twenty miles to the schoolhouse
    Barefoot, uphill both ways,
    Through blizzards in summer and winter
    Back in the good old days.
    Back when Fortran was not even Three-tran
    And the PC was only a toy
    And we did our computing by gaslight
    When I was a boy.

    When I was a boy all our networks
    Were for hauling in fish from the sea–
    Our bawd rate was eight bits an hour (and she was worth it!),
    And our IP address was just 3.

    And you kids who complain that the World Wide Web
    Is too slow oughtta cut out your bitchin’,
    ‘Cuz when I was a boy every packet
    Was delivered by carrier pigeon

    And we walked twenty miles to the schoolhouse
    Barefoot, uphill both ways,
    Through blizzards in summer and winter
    Back in the good old days.
    Back when Fortran was not even Two-tran
    And the mainframe was only a toy
    And we did our computing by torchlight
    When I was a boy.

    When I was a boy our IS shop
    Built relational tables from wood,
    And we wrappered our data in oilcloth
    To preserve it the best that we could.

    And we carried our bits in a bucket,
    And our mainframe weighed 900 tons,
    And we programmed in ones and in zeros
    And sometimes we ran out of ones.

    And we walked twenty miles to the schoolhouse
    Barefoot, uphill both ways,
    Through blizzards in summer and winter
    Back in the good old days.
    Back when Fortran was not even One-tran
    And the abacus? Only a toy!
    And we did our computing in primordial darkness
    When I was a boy.

  71. you worked in some sort of marketing role at america online around the mid 1990s?

    are you responsible for all those millions of floopy dics they made?

  72. bionichands: “If you’ve ever typed load “program”, 8,1 wave your nerd flag.”


    I still have a few dozen 3.5″ disks up top of my desk — I really should try to salvage what i can of them.

    The first timesharing computer I administered had two 1.2 Gig drives the size of small washing machines. Now I have a 4 Gig thumb drive that can get lost in my pocket. (And a Terabyte hard disk that I can toss in my backpack!)

  73. #78 – that almost looks like an EMERAC! :)

    (Google image search for those who don’t get the reference. And once you do, get thee hence to NetFlix, you poor neglected sod.)

  74. The question is – if you actually wanted to read that disk, is it still possible? Are there actually still running PCs in existence that can accept and read that disk?

  75. I have a 3.5 inch floppy drive on my PC..I’ve built my own PC’s since the 286 days and keep moving the floppy to the new box. No reason to have one any more, but it’s a habit..
    OK, that’s my nerd moment for the day…

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