: The "fun days of old media" thread...


MacAndy
Feb 25th, 2008, 04:40 PM
We've all piped up on occasion about what Macs we've owned through the years/decades... but a conversation I just had about old Macs got me thinking... what types of weird and wonderful media/drives have you used in your lifetime?

Here's a few of mine:

8" disks - yes, an old typesetting system the first company I worked for used 8in floppy disks - even then I thought it archaic.

5.25" disks - all of the 286 and 386 Windoze boxes at the companies I was converting to Mac use in the early Nineties had these drives, but thankfully I rarely had to use them. I did use them on the Letraset-backed Wasatch behemoth of a graphics workstation - elaborate painting processes, pain-in-the-ass DOS file structure, argh.

3.5" disks - pretty much the norm in the early Nineties, single-sided, single-density disks that held just 350k, then double-sided double density disks that held 700k, then HDD at 1.4Mb - wow! I remember a dealer downtown had 3.5" HDD Sony disks on sale for just - get this - $35 a box of TEN!! I bought three boxes!!

Syquests - OK, the KING of disks for graphic design firms around 1990-1995, the 44Mb, 88Mb and 200Mb disks ruled the range. My small studio had one 44/88Mb drive on each of four computers, each costing about $750, with the cartridges costing between $100-$150 EACH. I never bought into the smaller disk size formats, they weren't around long enough! Boy did Syquests die fast when...

ZIP drives took the world by storm, c1998? I remember thinking, this is going to replace the floppy AND what if they built these into every Mac - earth-shattering, envelope-pushing thinking... and then it actually happened! A G3 and a G4 with internal ZIP drive and you were king. Unless you had...

A 650Mb optical drive. Paid $3,600 for one. Put in the first disk, formatted it [I think I went out for lunch and came back as it was finishing] and saw that it was only formatted to 327Mb. What the ...? Flip it over? Holy crap you gotta be kidding me! A few months later the 1.2Gb version came out. Man was I pissed.

Writable CDs, when they first came out, were something like $1 each. Or were they more - anyone remember? Now we think nothing of burning a DVD full of mus... er, data, yeah, that's it, work files and such. Ahem.

Will our Macs come with Blu-Ray DVD burners at some point?

Will we have a need for 10Gb writable formats? 100Gb?

"No one will ever need more than 640k of RAM." - Bill Gates.

rgray
Feb 25th, 2008, 04:59 PM
You forgot cassette drives! We ran our 2 Apple IIs powered semi-circular auditory "mazes" off them for the longest time.

Seems to me there were backup systems that used VHS tapes, too.

johnnyspade
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:02 PM
The oldest I can recall using were the floppy disks for my Commodore Vic 20, and then the Commodore 64. I played a lot of Space Taxi and Lode Runner in those days.

I also remember Zip drives and that the disks were quite expensive. we used to send our design files out on them with postage paid envelopes in the hopes of getting them back.

I am interested to see where flash memory is going in the next few years.

MacAndy
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:05 PM
You forgot cassette drives! We ran out 2 Apple IIs powered semi-circular auditory "mazes" off them for the longest time.

Seems to me there were backup systems that used VHS tapes, too.

Ah, yes, I forgot... must be my age.

My one and only encounter with tape drives was a Texas Instruments TI99a that you connected a tape recorder - yes, 4-track tapes - to store your programming.

I remember spending all day creating an animated sprite in Basic.

The keyboard command for copying to tape was one key different from rebooting.

Alas, as prepared to watch the tape recorder start spinning, I hit the keys only to watch the screen go blank.

Never did any Basic programming again.

HowEver
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:05 PM
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SINC
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:09 PM
LOL! Those old 8" floppies.

We used to have four drives with a floppy in each to do a daily newspaper with a Mycro-Tek typesetting system.

Had nearly forgotten about those.

smashedbanana
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:29 PM
I bought my first cd-writer when they "dropped" in price to $999. It was 2x speed and blank (650mb only, no 700mb) Kodak gold-on-gold cd-r disks were $11 each cost. I charged customers $25 per disk when making backups, and I paid for the drive in 1 month. It wasn't economical to backup audio cds.

There was no buffer-underrun protection, so it was easy to make bad disks.
But all those disks I made are still working! Quality media no doubt.

I bought the first powermac G4 with a superdrive. DVD-R 4.7gb by pioneer were $31 each and I made cummulative backups all of all my data cd-rs. Those discs are still working, but considering the price go figure.

Speaking of defunct media typed remember DVD-RAM? The dual G4s had them with these cartridges where you had to flip the disc.

Ed

madgunde
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:46 PM
My first computer, an Atari 400, used solid state cartridges and standard audio cassettes. The cartridges were read only of course, and used for distributing commercial software, but most of the programs we ran were stored on audio cassettes. Ah, good old Load Runner...

Now probably the most archaic method of distributing software I've ever encountered was print magazines. My brother and I used to buy Atari magazines because the back half contained pages of BASIC program code you could manually type into your computer character by character for free games and programs which you would then save to audio cassette. Boy was it frustrating to spend a couple of hours typing in a program only to get an error when you tried to run it because of the multiple typos you were likely to have made...

OK, but the oldest media I've ever personally been exposed to was mechanical papertape. When I was a toddler, my dad was a computer technician who maintained mini-computers which to me just looked like large boxes the size of washing machines with lots of blinking lights. One such device created output by punching tiny holes in a thin paper tape, which could then be fed back into the computer and "read" by little mechanical pins that would detect the holes in the paper. I believe this was the precursor to punch cards. This is what I'm talking about (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punched_tape) but I recall it being thinner and the holes smaller. Was a really long time ago though and I was just a little kid, so my memory might be failing me.

EvanPitts
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:47 PM
Being an old timer that worked at a place that had all of the old formats of data storage...

Punched Tapes and Punch Cards. The paper tape used to break on occassion, thus ruining the 3 hour loading of the operating system on the Nova IV. And lots of punched cards, which we were still converting on a Chadless machine into the early nineties. (Punched card cabinets are excellent for parts/tool cabinets.) It was always funny when a student would not number their punched cards, and then trip on their way to submit their program.

A little more modern were Cauzin Strip readers, where the binary was printed on a column of paper, and is probably the only kind of computer piracy that could involve a photocopier. They had these for the Amigas, amongst other systems.

Of course, a gander at any old movie would show the old school 9 Track tape systems that were much used, and in my book, mark the "real" he-man kind of computing, where SysOps handled things. DEC made a smaller version that was quite popular on the PDP-8's and early PDP-11's, but I can not recall what the tapes were called. Of course, tapes have made advancements, and such drives as the QIC-02, QIC-40 and QIC-80's were widely accepted, and even the Travan drives were pretty reliable. Tape drives are still used in major computer systems for reliable backup, and tapes are now capable of 80 and 120GB - but are entirely too expensive for consumer use - even the hard core consumers.

There was a fad for a while that involved Bubble Memory drives, which were both costly, unreliable and entirely brain damaged. Really, they were so bad that we kept tape drives running for many years, just to avoid them.

There were the nasty MicroDrives that they used on the Sinclair QL. Smaller than cassette tape but not much faster, as they had the habit of unspooling. Cassettes were aslo the first drive included on the IBM PC, prior to the full height 5 1/4".

5 1/4" came in a number of variants, including single sided single density 180kB disks (that could be formatted for 160kB if one did not want the checksum bit. They also had "hard sectored" disks that had a series of holes around the hub to set the sectors. They also introduced 720kB 5 1/2" drives, but they were never produced in quantity, though oddly, MSDOS supported them. Apple also had a special "spiral disk" format, which made it difficult to copy disks without the appropriate software on the appropriate Alps floppy drive, which could follow the odd track layout.

3 1/2" were the first made to a standard, though the 2.88MB disk drives never saw much acceptance. It was too little, too late, as optical drives were coming into the fore.

Before Zip drives there was the Bernoulli Box. Really, a horror show that hopefully will never be revisited. There were also CD-ROM wannabes such as the WORM drive (that again, lead many people to sticking with QIC-80 backup because it was better in virtually all respects), and Canon's magneto-optical brain damage that proved to be both expensive, non standard, and unreliable.

I am sure that in the future, such non standard flim-flam as DVD+R and HD-DVD will be included on such lists...

MacAndy
Feb 25th, 2008, 05:54 PM
Does anyone remember the teletype/fax scene in the Steve McQueen movie Bullitt?

I have a feeling IBM probably paid some sort of fee for this... because although it was just an image being sent across the country, electronically, this was 1968 and a big deal.

I love watching them all pause around this huge box as they place the phone down and it screeches into the other box which then starts literally pounding out each dot onto paper - really, it makes a horrible bam-bam-bam-bam-bam-bam sounds as the drum spins inside.

Wonderful technology!!

dibenga
Feb 25th, 2008, 07:51 PM
Writable CDs, when they first came out, were something like $1 each. Or were they more - anyone remember? Now we think nothing of burning a DVD full of mus... er, data, yeah, that's it, work files and such. Ahem.

I remember paying something in the range of $15 to $30 for a blank CD, the company I worked for back in 96 got a 1x burner. I had a ton of floppies and zips and need to back it all up. They wouldn't let me use it because it was too complicated to set up a burn. I remember that Toast would burn any data that was left in the trash can along with the selected burn directory. You'd be pulling out your hair wondering why you kept running out of space.

Anyway, I copied all the file data, organized it in a folder all with custom icons and let them know it was there. They asked me to come back in the morning for it as it was going to take a while for the burn. When I picked it up one of the guys in the office renamed all my folders and named the disk "Franks big disk of porn" as a joke. I didn't have the cash at the time to burn another disk, so I was stuck with my unfortunately named backup disk, which I STILL have.

wcg
Feb 25th, 2008, 08:34 PM
I've used most of the common portable formats - cassette tape with my Vic-20, 8" floppies with a PDP-11, 5" with an Apple II and 3.5" with PCs. I had a QIC tape drive in my old 486 PC. I think the most unique "media" I can think of is a 16KB magnetic core memory unit in a PDP-11 I worked on at the NRC. It was in a helicopter and used because it was "rugged".

I wonder how soon we will look back and gripe about paying $100 for 500GB! There's got to be a point where even HD video will seem like an mp3 is now.

CamCanola
Feb 25th, 2008, 11:34 PM
What I remember most was the sound of the Apple ][ 5.25" disk drive starting up.
First the snap of the power switch quickly followed by the speaker beep and then a ratchet sound of the r/w head going home. Then a slide . . . slide, slide - and dos was loaded.

I will remember this sound till the day my dos fails to load.

Macfury
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:06 AM
I have used Hollerih cards, and the TRS-80 had cassette backup as well. Cassettes were used by a big Xerox data storage unit at a place I worked for quite some time--at least until 1988.

I seem to remember someone storing data on a VHS tape at some point, but I was never personally involved with it.

SINC may remember the Compugraphic typesetters that could store one or two lines of type at a time in some sort of RAM. Once you committed the two lines to print, you could no longer edit them.

cap10subtext
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:48 AM
I remember using tapes for programs on a Commadore PET and a Commadore Vic 20. But my favorite to think about now is the first external Apple CD-ROM ever produced. A blazing 2x read speed. But the best was you had to put the disk in a shell (like the one below) before you could even put it in the machine. The thing weighed a ton! It was magical.

4517

Snapple Quaffer
Feb 26th, 2008, 03:08 AM
cap10subtext, when I click on your link I start to get a download. Is this what you intend?

Anyway, I remember the Apple CD-reader we bought to go with our LC back in 1992. It certainly did weigh a lot for what it was, and yes, you had to put the CD into what we called a 'caddy'. This was rather like a CD jewel-case to look at but was clearly bit more than just a case. I think it had a spring loaded window that slid aside as it was inserted into the reader. It had to be loaded into the slot at the front of the CD-reader the right way around of course and seemed like the ultimate in high-tech.

chas_m
Feb 26th, 2008, 07:44 AM
I started with an 8" floppy.

Please insert a crude joke here.

:)

cap10subtext
Feb 26th, 2008, 07:50 AM
cap10subtext, when I click on your link I start to get a download. Is this what you intend?


Fixed, sorry, don't know why the image wasn't showing.

Yes, a Caddy, that's the one. I remember being fascinated by that thing and I remember my dad threatening to kill us if we ever lost that thing.

Snapple Quaffer
Feb 26th, 2008, 07:53 AM
Yes, a Caddy, that's the one.
That's the thing! And you're right, it was the one thing you couldn't afford to damage or lose.

harzack86
Feb 26th, 2008, 08:05 AM
Just before or at about the same time the Zip came out, I purchased an "end user" version of the Syquest drives, the "EZ 135"... this gave me a few headaches :eek:
SyQuest EZ 135 Drive - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EZ_135_Drive)

cap10subtext
Feb 26th, 2008, 08:26 AM
Just before or at about the same time the Zip came out, I purchased an "end user" version of the Syquest drives, the "EZ 135"... this gave me a few headaches :eek:
SyQuest EZ 135 Drive - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EZ_135_Drive)

Had one of those. It had the little metal tab you had to push sideways to lock and it always made this *ping* sound like you just broke it. That's high tech.

Heart
Feb 26th, 2008, 08:28 AM
I recall in school using the 5.25" floppies, on PET computers.

I purchase my one so I could safe my own data and stop using the tape drives.

You could manually cut a notch on the opposite side and start writing data to the second side of a 'single sided' floppy.
The data was not all that important, and I don't recall loosing any data.

cap10subtext
Feb 26th, 2008, 08:38 AM
Had one of those! Man, what a trip. Only we only had two disks, one for the adults and one for the kids and needless to say the kids one stopped working mysteriously. But at that time we had so many blank cassettes and no disks. It disappeared one day mysteriously (probably went to my dad's office). The PET had the built in cassette recorder anyways.

BTW, the site I got this image from has the PET keyboard listed as one of the Top 10 all time worst ever!

4520

SoyMac
Feb 26th, 2008, 08:57 AM
:cool: In high school, we had a computer course option, and I thought,
"Computers?! Holy COOL!!! I'll make robots that fly, and the flying robots can also do my homework, and clean my room!!"
Instead, I sat at a desk shading bubbles on cards so that if I was lucky, after a month of pencil stubs, I could print out a super ugly banner that read "Happy Birthday", and it would have looked better if I'd just used a magic marker.
After that class, I thought, "Who the hell would ever want to use a computer?!" :mad:
I didn't look again at anything called a "computer" for 30 years.

The other thing we laugh about, was buying an external 60 GB drive and enclosure a few years ago, and thinking the price was reasonable, at $500. :eek:
:lmao:

.

zarquon
Feb 26th, 2008, 09:05 AM
You could manually cut a notch on the opposite side and start writing data to the second side of a 'single sided' floppy.

We used to have a special hole-punch that would cut a square notch in the disks. It was so much nicer than having to use the scissors, and worked better than the round punch. I bet some enterprising soul made a bucket off of all those 'floppy disk notching tools' :)

Z.

madgunde
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:15 AM
That's the thing! And you're right, it was the one thing you couldn't afford to damage or lose.

Back when all CDROM drives used caddies, I remember thinking that instead of jewel cases, why didn't CDROMs come shipped in caddies so we could didn't have to mess around with pulling discs in and out of those things. Of course, tray and eventually slot loading CDROMs came out not too long after making the caddy pointless.

madgunde
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:22 AM
The other thing we laugh about, was buying an external 60 GB drive and enclosure a few years ago, and thinking the price was reasonable, at $500.

I remember paying $500 for a 2GB SCSI 3.5" half-height hard disk from a shady fellow who walked into the Compucentre I worked at thinking I would never need a bigger hard drive than that. Most computers had around 150-230MB hard drives at the time. Dealer cost for this drive I bought was over $2,000. I probably spent another $100 for a SCSI enclosure which were hard to find back then. Still have it to this day (both the drive and enclosure) and I'm sure if I were to turn it on, they would still function perfectly.

Yes, I'm sure the hard drive was stolen, but I was a kid with a bad storage addiction. ;)

MacAndy
Feb 26th, 2008, 11:32 AM
Back when all CDROM drives used caddies, I remember thinking that instead of jewel cases, why didn't CDROMs come shipped in caddies so we could didn't have to mess around with pulling discs in and out of those things. Of course, tray and eventually slot loading CDROMs came out not too long after making the caddy pointless.

The precursor to CDs in caddies were the optical disks that were a single CD platter inside a permanent shell with a slot that slid open for read/write. So the caddy was actually a step forward!

Someone mentioned the cost of a 60Gb drive...

In a Dana Carvey old man voice:
"Why I remember paying $1200 for an external 80Mb drive."

YES - I said Mb, not Gb.

And:
$800 for 5Mb of RAM
$1300 for a 13" RGB monitor
$3200 for a grayscale scanner
$4800 for a 66Mhz PowerBook 540c
$5500 for a B&W Laserwriter IINT
$8000 for a 16Mhz IIci

sigh

Macfury
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:05 PM
$2000 for a grey scale 20-inch Ikegami monitor.
$4995 for Macintosh IIsi
$1995 for an Apple Laserwriter

I worked for a large corporation in 1985 and floppy disks were considered an extravagance. The tech guy would put purple dot stickers on 5.25" floppies if the disks were apparently giving someone trouble as a warning that this disk was "on watch." Only after corrupting data twice would the disk be disposed of.

HowEver
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:18 PM
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Macfury
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:26 PM
However: The NTR for me as well. I remember being hoarse from the ozone that thing produced after three straight hours of printing.

I also had the 13" RGB monitor in a sweet dual monitor set-up. Grunt work in grey scale, colour testing on the RGB. The Ikegami required me to add a Nu-Bus card of course.

I'm trying to remember whether the original set-up contained an FPU or whether I bought it as an add-on.

The first photo scan I ever produced filled up the entire IISi hard drive--I couldn't save it!

HowEver
Feb 26th, 2008, 12:48 PM
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Macfury
Feb 26th, 2008, 01:03 PM
That's righte, the Nu-bus and co-processor were together! I think I still have the Nu-Bus box.

I bought the IIsi at Microboutique. The motherboard on the IIsi fried just out of warranty so I traded it in for a faster used IIci plus $400 at The Mac Store. The parts were considered that valuable at the time.