Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Age of antiquity

Evil Twin recently received a stark reminder that one computer year is like ten human years. She writes:
I have been dealing with a distant contractor who will be reprinting a curriculum guide I designed about 10 years ago. The employee requesting the reprint wrote: "The contractor who will be working on this is requesting the original guide in Word be emailed to them. They would like you to send it at your earliest convenience."

Oh yes, I STILL have the original Word file on that document (are you shitting me?) Ten years ago, we were using WordStar for our word processing. Okay, so in 1998, I formatted the document, it went through several reviews, sections were changed and finally printed. I sent it to the printer on a Zip disk in its original PageMaker 6.5 format. He returned it to me when the job was done. I have it here in my hand. Got nuttin' to insert the disk into, and got no software that opens it, even if I could locate a Zip drive. That was three computers ago.

Fortunately, I also saved it using a newfangled software that was supposed to make it available to people that didn't have PageMaker. It was called "Acrobat". The contractor is able to pull the correct text off the PDF. Not a job I'd want, though.

It got me to thinking. When we were at the Center*, I bought PageMaker 1.0. It came on one floppy, and had a huge manual. My serial number was PM1.00000647.

And we were on the bleeding edge of technology!

Note: Not to scale. Yeah, the Mac was small, but not that small.

Those were the days, eh? Between installing software and making backup copies**, if I had a dollar for every time I had to swap 5.25" floppies (which, BTW, really were floppy) I wouldn't be sitting here today.

Anyone remember the 9" floppys? Or were they proprietary to the Wang word processor circa 1984?

* Where we (and Mr. B) met, some 20+ years ago.

** AutoCAD: 14 disks. I wish I was making that up.


  1. Holy guacamole!!

    I forgot about all that disk swapping! Sometimes I'd turn the damn thing off and just go home to avoid putting that disk in one -- more -- time.

    But you never knew how many swaps you had left. One? Twenty? It's like hanging up when you've been on hold for twenty minutes. You always wonder whether they would have picked up two seconds after you gave up.

  2. I remember the large floppys...my feeble memory had them at 8" though. I worked for the Air Force doing life cycle cost analysis and we used the Wang develop and modify contract clauses...for our cost analysis we had a terminal for the Air Fore C.R.E.A.T.E. system located at Wright-Patterson AFB in OH. We were at Robins AFB, GA. There was 30" wide (?) line printer---NO MONITOR. You had to log in, recall your program, List it to the printer, modify it, and run it and hope you didn't get a semi colon in the wrong place or it might send reams of paper shooting through the printer at near light speed before you could hit cancel. Then we finally got the Microsoft 8088 personal computer! wow...we didn't have to connect to Wright-Awful AFB remotely...and it had a MONITOR!...Yippee! a 9" monochromatic green screen that 8 or 9 analyst had to share...Those were the days...we actually had to talk to each other...

    OK now I am feeling really old...I need to take leave and recover.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!


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