Nostalgia and Gaming alert – The trusted floppy disk, not only a useful 1.44mb of data for your computer but also a coaster, excuse as to why your homework wasn’t complete and ninja star should it have failed. It was a humble piece of now historic computer equipment that I used throughout my time at school. You can imagine now the shock and horror to be asked by a child, “What’s a floppy disk”!
For those of you too young to know this, it was a thin plastic square used for saving information you wanted to transport from one computer to another. They were also the staple method of installing games pre CD-Rom days. Consider this, a CD holds 700mb of data whilst a DVD holds 4.7gb of data. That’s 487 Floppy Disks to a CD and 3342 to a DVD. Games and gaming was a lot simpler those days!
A true story: During my time at Parmiter’s we were provided with a solitary disk to save homework or coursework should we need it. I managed for 3 weeks running, to hand in a blank floppy disk corrupted heavily by a magnet to my science teacher. It certainly was quicker than doing the actual homework though eventually the punishment ended in the same detention I would have got 3 weeks prior. To me, I’d got away with it and technology had helped!
A popular game between my friends and I was VGA Planets by Tim Wisseman, a game played on Windows 3.1 or MS Dos (if you don’t know what those are then head to YouTube and Wikipedia). A strategy game that saw you take control of a fictional race and attempt to dominate the galaxy. Floppy disks played a huge role in this, e-mail still wasn’t popular and file sharing sites didn’t exist. Therefore to get the turn files back to game host (almost always Richard), we had to bring in our floppies and hand them over. It’s amazing to think now that all our games we play now are in instant communication with each other; no waiting, no delay. Looking back now I’m not sure we ever managed to complete a game, seven weeks might see 14 turns. This didn’t deter us though, it was an excuse to plot out revenge or alliances should we find each other in the vast expanse of the system generated galaxy. I’d say I got more pleasure about the plans we came up with than the actual completion of any single game.
I miss having to protect my little square of plastic, yes I lose memory sticks all the time and CD’s get scratched but the floppy disk bizarrely was fun to use. The final memory I’ll share (the post was meant to be shorter) is of the time Richard was afraid of viruses.
Before the internet was in either of our households, I had a ZX Spectrum and Richard had a most impressive 486 (again research it as I’m not telling you what it is). All my early PC experiences came from my time over the road in his house. Thinking back now it was so unlikely a virus could infect the PC without it being connected to a network etc.. Either way, we still believed it was possible and so began the weekly reinstall of Windows 3.1. As discussed above, things didn’t come on CD so Windows 3.1 was across 6 disks. Each one would take its time crunching away in the drive until the worst event happened. Coffee spillage across disk 5! The disk was hastily picked up and waved around and allowed to drip dry; it never regained life. I really don’t remember what happened post that day because Windows 3.1 I’m sure required the information on that disk. I’m sure Richard will post in the comments exactly what did happen but I have a feeling Windows ’95 appeared.
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