I spent a lot of the weekend clearing piles of old crap out of my study. I can’t remember the last time I gave it a good clean, but it was nice to be reminded of the colour of the carpet and to be reassured that there is still a wooden desk underneath the layers of paperwork.
One decision that I took was that I was going to throw away all of the old 3.5″ disks that I found. It’s been years since I used a floppy disk and I can’t see me needing them in the foreseeable future. The last time I bought a desktop computer it didn’t even come with a floppy disk drive as standard. That was an added extra. I gave it one last workout on Saturday though as I checked about fifty disks to see if they contained anything that I wanted to keep. The only useful thing I found (I say “useful”, but that’s probably an exaggeration) was a set of eight disks that contained a set of Disney graphics that I must have acquired somehow when I worked for their home video group.
I also found a number of disks that were labelled with various DOS version numbers and a complete set of Visual Basic Professional 4.0 which came on about ten disks. It gave me great pleasure to dispose of those. The only disks that I didn’t throw out were a copy of the original version of Doom (I remember three of us at Disney clubbing together to buy that) and the boxed set of The Lost Treasures of Infocom. This was partly just because of nostalgia, but also because in both cases the most important part of the game is a data file and there are interpreters for reading those data files available for many computing platforms. It appeals to me that I just need to hunt down a Z-Machine implementation and I’ll be able to play The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy on my Linux system.
I found one other set of software that I haven’t yet thrown away. I had largely forgotten about it, but in the second half of the 90s I wasn’t as committed to open source software as I now am and I spent quite a lot of money on Microsoft software. I found a big stack of installation CDs for things like Encarta, Cinemania and Money. I remember being very impressed by Encarta and Cinemania when they were released – I spent hours watching tiny jumpy clips from films when I first got hold of Cinemania. Of course the presence of things like Wikipedia and IMDB makes them a bit pointless these days. I have no idea if these 1990s products even run on modern versions of Windows, but I can’t help wondering if there’s a market in secondhand versions of this software. Let me know if you’re interested in hearing more about exactly which products I’ve got.