In Memoriam of the Floppy Disk


In the last week my father-in-law sent me an email which I quote:

Sher –
 
Trying to clean up my room.  I have a bunch of 3.5″ diskettes – some blank and some with info.
 
Are they of any use to me?  I also have the labels that affix to them.  They are yours if you want them.
 
dad
floppies-660x492
The email from my Father-in-law triggered a walk down memory lane for me.  I have not replied to his email yet.  I wanted to share some of my memories with you though.

I remember when floppy disks were actually floppy.  I  remember the 5-1/4 inch ones very well. I remember the protective paper sleeves, and the care you took not to bend the disk as you slid it in the drive, the notch on the side that you had to cover with tape if you wanted to write protect the disk, having to pull a plastic switch to close the drive.  Yup, floppies were pretty much a pain in the butt, weren’t they? Transporting them was always a pain because once you bent one even a little too far, your odds of being able to use it again were slim to none.  Ever get one stuck inside the disk drive?  The little plastic or metal thing got bent and you had to get tweezers out & wish for the best.  Yup, been there done that.

514disks

Then the evolution of the 3-1/2 inch disks took over, and you thought WOW, these things are just awesome. Smaller, more durable, and with much greater capacity — the older, bigger, floppier disks didn’t  stand a chance.

The memory of 3-½ inch disks that sticks with me the most is having to use them to install Microsoft Office on my PC. There were over 30 disks that I had to put in one at a time and make sure to keep them in exact order.

  • What are your floppy disk memories if any?
  • Do you find it humorous to have nostalgia for something you would never actually want to even use again?
  •  Of all the software products ever released, what came on the highest number of floppy disks?

Windows 95 used 13 floppies as I recall.  I had a game called Oregon Trail which took a bunch & Police Quest Open Season… great game but had about 20+ floppies to load.

So, I think I will respond to my Father-in-law now and tell him “Thank you but no thank you on your offer.”  Now, if he has some USB 3.0 flash drives he is looking to rehome, I am very open to receiving them.


 

About the Author

Sherri Meinke

A long-standing Computer Geek with over 25 years of experience. Having owned her first Apple IIe and moving on up the ranks with a multitude of Windows-based pc’s to her latest toy, a Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet with Windows 10. Sherri repairs, upgrades, and recycles computers as well as consults, trains & designs Websites. She is a Former AOL Community Leader and loves forums as well as online training. She created the "Camp Wired" computer training program at the Medina County Library system, 8 years ago. It is a free computer education program teaching technology in a relaxed atmosphere where students at all levels get to mentor other students and grow in their knowledge and understanding of technology. This program runs year round with no signs of slowing down.

13 Comments

  1. Boy do I have memories, and they are all recent, as I still use DOS on a 486. Yep, I toggle back and forth, between DOS and Windows. Use a KVM switch, and DOS applications look great on a 24″ monitor. Still know how to program in dBase and Lotus, so 3 1/2″ disks do come in handy, Mindblower!

  2. I remember a joke about floppies.

    Instructions: insert disk number 3 in your computer.

    me: How can I insert disk 3? I have 2 disks in there already!

  3. Well if you want to get nostalgic, while still in high school I started out in 1968 lugging boxes of punch cards and thought reels of punched paper tape were great! Then the huge spools of 9 track tape came along that held so much data! In the late 70’s the next big thing was the 9 inch floppies that we used on the Xerox word processor. Finally the PC was born with smaller floppies. I don’t miss any of those things.

  4. I found an eight inch floppy in a cleanup at work about 15 years ago and no one wanted it so I kept it to show people what original floppies looked like. I also took a three ans a half floppy out of its caddy so I can show people that the disk actually is both round and floppy.

    I have hundreds of 3-1/2 and 5-1/4 floppies and about four drives for each, one of each is in a computer that I can still use if I need to access any of them.

  5. I got rid of all my 5 1/4″ floppy’s afew years ago when I tossed my old TI994a. I kept all the 3 1/2″ ones since they were usable on my PC. I went through a bunch of them a few weeks ago. They are all filled with photos. While checking I found that most were such low resolution that all they looked like on the screen was a blurr. It’s amazing how sharp they looked on a 12″ CRT monitor way back then. They are unviewable on a 21.6″ LCD monitor unless I shrink the image to postage stamp size. I still haven’t thrown any of them out. After all, the disks are still good!!!! Yes, they are extremely slow to load and make all kinds of noise. They are memories unto themselves, not the data on them though.

  6. Crazily enough, I’m still servicing XP machines which require F6 drivers from floppy disk! Or some that need a BIOS flash & will only accept floppy medium. I use a USB floppy drive fairly often.

    Hey Stephen, have you tried this?: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Starship-Enterprise-out-of-a-Floppy-Disk

    Just two days ago, went on a job & the old fellow (retired steamship captain & Dr. of Philosophy!) showed me his pristine “blast-from-the-past” PC:

    http://oldcomputers.net/pics/nec-apc-right.jpg

    His wife used to program it for use in tracking sea containers…so neat! 🙂

  7. In my job with document conversion software company Keyword, we had discussions about the 8″ hard sector issues!

  8. There is a web site that will buy old floppy disks, either used or new. I’ve done it. The site is:
    Floppydisk.com

    USED DISKS: We accept any quantity of diskettes. If you send more than 200 disks, we pay shipping based on media mail rates.

    NEW DISKS: We buy lots from 100 to 100,000. Call us (800) 397-7890 for a quote.

    It’s easy. Just send your discs to:

    Floppydisk Recycle Program
    2620 Walnut Ave Unit D
    Tustin, CA 92780-7028

  9. Oregon Trail. I absolutely loved that game. “Caulk the wagon and float across the river.” And using the spacebar to shoot when hunting buffalo and such. Wow. Seems like a million years ago. Thanks for the memory revival 🙂

  10. One of my most expensive computers had a floppy drive (3.5″), a zip drive, a CD drive and a DVD drive. Good ol’ days?

  11. wow Joan, thanks I will pass this information on to my father in law, when I see him on Thanksgiving. Thanks folks for walking down the halls of memories re: the evolution of the floppy disk.