A while back I planned to pull my beloved Apple //e (circa 1993) out of storage with the intent of a) having fun, and b) archiving anything noteworthy I found on my many 5.25″ floppy disks.
I did, and the experience was both better and worse than I imagined. The experience was wonderfully tactile: the boxes of disks have a particular smell I’d forgotten all about, the disk drives, in their solid metal casing, have a distinct clunk when you tap them and whirr when they go. The computer itself was dirty, reflecting 26 years’ worth of patina. The keyboard (but, happily, not the case) had yellowed, the 7 key didn’t work, and it suffered from other woes; but on the other hand, I was able to plug in my Mach III joystick (still without compare) and boot up Space Eggs, the Apple II’s most important application. I didn’t really need it to do anything else after that. I was fulfilled. (As an aside, it is hard to say what makes Space Eggs, a fairly simple and annoying Space Invaders derivative, so compelling. But it is.)
I was fairly astonished to see that most of the floppies still worked just fine, including Apple’s first, dated June 1978, despite having been stored for many years in a shed subject to the extreme temperatures the disk manufacturers would warn you about via icons on the protective sleeves. I was prepared to for 250 useless disks.
I’ve only made it through one box of floppies, which is probably 50 disks; I have four more. Archiving all of them — even deciding what to archive — was too daunting, so I just scanned for what appeared to be original content, such as papers or programs I’d written. I found various lists of LP’s I owned, mix tape contents lovingly detailed, essays from high school and early college, and programs I’d written to simulate my dad’s betting systems for craps.
I think that for various intervals for the rest of my life, I’m just going to need to hear the beep, whirr of an Apple II starting up.