Well, for the time being this is going to me my retro computing blog, because that’s been what I’ve been putting a chunk of my spare time into lately.
This all started with my desire to preserve my Apple II 5.25″ floppy disks. The short answer there: to my surprise and delight, they’re fine. Most work, including one that certifiably dates to 1978. Whoa.
I also discovered — not surprisingly — that most of what’s on those disks isn’t really all that valuable. Mostly it’s Apple II games and utilities, of which “primitive” is an understatement. Many people have been asking me: why do this? What could possibly be on those disks that is worth having.
The answer is nothing and everything. My grandfather nailed it, when I told hiim I was excavating the Apple //e he and my grandmother gave me for my bar-mitzvah: it’s like the old doll you find in the attic. A conduit to childhood. I spent most waking moments of my childhood working on an Apple II, so I guess that’s something I want to hang on to. Even though most of the same games are available on the internet, it’s something about those actual disks: each one is a window of a time capsule into my past. It’s not the same to play someone else’s copy from someone else’s disk. It’s not really the game itself. It’s the metagame.
But there’s another angle: expertise. As an expert, I like to feel my expertise, and I’ll never be a total expert in any single computer like I am an Apple II expert. Any modern computer is too vastly complicated to know everything there is to know. My friend Tim whom I worked with at Apple put it nicely: One person could understand everything about an Apple II. One person can’t understand everything about Open Transport [the networking component of classic Mac OS].
Now I have to figure out the plan of attack — there are too many of these things (I’m guess at least two hundred) to copy all of them. Well, I guess I could, but clearly not all of them are worth copying. Some of these are disks it looks like a friend or someone else gave me, so if I’m seeing them for the first time I’m not sure there’s much sentimental attachment there. I’m pretty sure I don’t need to keep my dad’s copy of BPI General Ledger (if you don’t know what that is, that’s my point) for the ages. On the other hand, the craps system testing programs I wrote for him in BASIC — those go in the vault.