Digital Nostalgia

While clearing up a bit, I recently discovered a whole stack of 3.5 inch diskettes. Many of these were blank and had never been used — with my usual sense of great timing I bought a stack of 20 of the things, and a large case to hold them, just as they started to go out of fashion.

Of the ones that weren’t blank, most contain files and documents that I last looked at in the 1990s.

And then there were all the freebies that I had accumulated. Disks that had been mounted on magazine covers, stuffed with free and demonstration utilities for DOS or even Windows 3.1. Some of these I even remember. Most, however have been completely forgotten and none of them has been looked at since 2004 (or earlier).

One thing I do remember is OS/2. Not the disk so much as the actual operating system, which I used at work somewhere around the mid-1990s. We had a development tool that couldn’t run on Windows because… well, Windows wasn’t very good and this meant that the development team (me and one other person) had to dual boot between OS/2 and Windows 3.1.

I really liked OS/2 back in the day. It was stable, reliable and worked really well — which was quite a revelation when compared to Windows. And while the operating system never took off, it did manage to build a community of users which survived well into this century.

Time has, of course, moved on and I suspect that I doubt that it would stand any comparison with the operating systems of today, but when I was using OS/2 I did appreciate it.

As for the disks, I don’t have anything that could actually read them and doubt that any of them contain anything of more than passing interest, so into the bin they all went.

8 thoughts on “Digital Nostalgia

  1. My wife could find a craft to do with them. I still have an “A:” drive in my boneyard but no way to connect it. Well, I suppose on ebay or amazon I could find something. Like you, I don’t know how much use they would be or if it would be worth buying a cable. I have a few stacks of floppies around. I even have a couple of the 5.somethings, just to look at and show the grandkids. On the last computer I owned that had a drive I went through a lot of them and copied the stuff to a folder.

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    1. I did take a quick look on Amazon, and you can get an external drive for less than €30. But I can’t really justify buying yet another device which I will only use once to recover a bunch of files that I haven’t even thought about in the best part of twenty years.

      I remember using the 5 inch disks. I never owned any, though.

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  2. I still have my 5 1/4 discs of Windows 1.0. A grand total of 6 discs, but I don’t have a drive and probably the discs are unreadable. I have some more but don’t know what they contain.
    And I remember OS/2 ,I cant recall how I got a copy, it was fantastic at least for the time, reliable fast but Microsoft didn’t want to lose control and IBM could not make people use it.

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    1. Wow, 5 1/4 inch disks is really going back a bit. So is Windows 1.0 for that matter — I’m not sure I ever saw that in action. If memory serves me correctly, Windows 2.0 or 2.1 was my first experience with a Microsoft GUI.

      OS/2 was great at the time, and a massive improvement on what had gone before. I think the biggest problem it had was that DOS and Windows 3.1 were already installed on most PCs and asking people to install something else was — and still is — quite a big ask.

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      1. Yes, is always the same story when almost all your games and programs can’t run you don’t change and programmers don’t adapt their software because it people don’t use the system. And IBM may had the muscle but lacked the ability to bring programmers to their side.

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