It turned out that all of those disks were fine, so I continued downloading the other disks in the series by minicom'ing to my ISP's shell account, ftping them to the remote disk, and zmodem'ing them to my local disk. I played nethack on another virtual terminal while this was working.
Well, I switched back about 5 minutes later to check on the progress and it was just crawling, like 4KB every few seconds. I moved the mouse to hit the 'cancel' button on the zmodem transfer window, and the transfer rate shot up just then. I thought "well, okay..." and went back to nethack.
A few minutes later same thing happened. Move mouse, transfer speed goes up. I didn't understand IRQs at the time but I grasped apparent causality. I decided I'd try moving the modem to a different IRQ but that required a reboot. I wanted to finish the current disk set, so I sat there with a book in one hand, twirling the mouse in little circles with the other.
That's my hand-crank modem story.
To this day, whenever the network is slow, I twirl the mouse in little circles subconsciously.
 like these ( http://az413224.vo.msecnd.net/img/40934/m_40934_1.jpg ) not these ( http://images.yourdictionary.com/images/computer/_ACUPLER.GI... ).
People would buy cheaper double density disks, drill a hole in it, so that the same diskette could be used as a 1440KB disk. Of course, they were of a far lower quality, and 'arj' (which was popular at the time) would often fail after the n-th disk.
Edit: heh, there is even a reference to drilling holes on the Apple website ;): http://support.apple.com/kb/TA39910
I would take one disk flipped over the other, mark the notch with a permanent marker, then cut out the outline. Most disks, like Elephant Memory, would work fine. You just flipped the disk over and inserted back into the 1541 to read the reverse side.
It helped when you were putting out hundreds of disks of pirated games on a regular basis.
I still think the single-sided disks were from the same production line as the double sided ones, and it was all market segmentation.
They called them flippy disks...
I'm guessing that 3.5 disks were binned, so maybe you could get away with it once in awhile? Of course, the only way you could find out was to actually lose data...
Edit: I apologize for the rudeness of my comment. However, it is my understanding that the evidence available today points to things like TV being damaging to the development of the very young (1-3 years old)
When it comes to television, studies have shown some negative correlation. But they disappear when you adjust for socioeconomic status and parental education: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/03/babies.watch.TV.
What the data really indicates is that poor people and single parents let their kids watch more TV, and since IQ is highly heritable, TV watching ends up being linked to lower cognitive performance. But it doesn't seem to be a causal relationship, or at least the data doesn't clearly support that conclusion.
Obviously its important to engage with kids, and parking them in front of an iPad could get in the way of that. But at the end of the day, there are no prizes for making parenting harder than it already is.
There's not much science. That science is poorly reported by mass media. It's misunderstood by many readers. And most people have fierce cognitive biases anyway.
Basically, "talk to your children. watching tv stops you talking to your children". I guess that's reasonable, except you can't talk constantly at children. Not everything is a learning opportunity. The parents and the children need some down time. The science doesn't say anything about exhausted stressed parents deprived of human contact and the impact that has on children, or the possible benefits of TV to that parent.
I kinda miss those days. Sometimes.
IIRC there were also
d: development (gcc, make, etc)
e: emacs (I think; I used vim at the time)
x: X11 base system
xap: X applications
y: bsd games
brap brap brap eeee errrr eeeeeee errr brap brap aehhe aaaaeheh
insert disc 2/15
Oh those were the days.
To get an impression, I found this on eBay:
On my iPad mini, I keep trying to unlock it with my fingerprint.
I think in DefCon 18, Gordon "Fyodor" Lyon was talking about using Lua in Nmap. He said that the description mentioned that all of it and the doc could fit in a floppy disk.. And then he said "For the younger audience, a floppy disk is.." at which point the audience exploded in laughter.
I'm 26 now, but my oldest brother is 18 years older than me and almost all of us in the family are engineers so I had different technologies around the house. (Not old enough to see "drum memory", though).
But double sided drives were already available on the market. The only problem was that the PC BIOS and DOS didn't support the second side.
So I bought a PC with no floppy drives and picked up a couple of double sided drives at a local distributor for $300 each.
As I'd hoped, they worked fine as single sided drives too, so I was able to boot DOS. Then I got to work on supporting the other side.
It seemed a bit complicated to try to merge the two sides into a single FAT filesystem, so I wrote a TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident program) that mapped the other two sides onto additional drive letters.
That turned out to be surprisingly easy. So the four sides on my two floppy drives were A:, B:, C:, and D: drives.
Later I got an awesome Tallgrass 10MB hard drive for only $5000, and that became my E: drive.
Now I knew my storage problems were over: I would never run out of space with that thing!
Sounds almost like heavy engineering!
"The Story of Mel" is both inspiring and humbling. A "real programmer"
Kind of amazing really. Girlfriend's nephews are 6 and 9, pretty tech savvy (there's a lot in the house), but they had no idea what the slots in the front of their grandfather's computer were (and why should they?!).
Back in my day, kid, we didn't have no stinking floppies for our PCs. All we had was cassette recorders, and we were happy to have 'em!
Reading this question took me down memory lane to doing a lot of PR#6. Couldn't remember if that command was for floppies or cassettes. Had to look it up. It was how we did I/O on the Apple II. As I remember, you changed the number (PR#3, PR#4, etc) based on the physical slot the peripheral was plugged into. This was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and real men wore skirts.
Old age and forgetfulness is going to be really strange for a whole generation of computer nerds. So many different technologies, commands, and paradigms all jumbled up.
Oh gods, I'm so old.
This particular post makes me feel so old though and I'm only 30 in a couple of weeks.
I remember buying Doom years ago and when I got the box it jangled round from all the discs inside of it.
I also remember when the first 24x speed CD drives came out, this is when hard drives were too expensive to load a full game on to so CD speed was important so your game didn't buffer as much.
Kids these days with their solid state iPads and 3D games consoles.
 A bootable live Windows XP/Server 2003 environment. See http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/.
I still remember the first game that was soooo big it required both A and B, meaning you to take the OS boot disk out (which you of course always forgot to put back in after you were done.)
Good thing I had a dad who soldered Philips' Apple ][ clone together when I was 2 so that I don't feel that old for knowing this ;)
Also its bootdrv.com is one of the smallest useful programs I've ever seen, clocking in at seven bytes.
Primitive and slow as it was, it was still a vast improvement over audio cassettes.
Later, I wrote a software UART and interfaced my Z-80 system to a single Atari 810 disk drive. 96K of storage and tons faster. I got a lot of work done on that system.
DOSBox  was still in its infancy then, and the DOS emulation in Windows was...less than one hundred percent compatible with all the hardware tricks various DOS games used to squeeze the last ounce of performance out of the hardware. (In the DOS days, it was common practice for application programs, especially games, to directly deal with I/O ports, interrupts, DMA, etc.)
 A DOS boot disk is similar to a bootable Linux CD / DVD -- removable media containing an OS. In this case, you mainly use it to customize the loaded drivers on a per-game basis. Regardless of how much physical memory you have, in DOS only 640K is conveniently addressable , so it's very important to selectively load only the drivers a specific game needs.
Doctor Who on 8 floppies
BTW, does anyone remember having to enter no. of cylinders in BIOS to make the HDD work :)
My first computer was a Timex 2068, using a tape recorder with counter!
The dream of every kid was to have a double deck tape recorder.
When my parents brought home an IBM-compatible PC with an enormous 50 MB hard drive I could hardly believe my luck.
Anyway, I don't need this to feel old; my wife already does that. She was in middle school when I was in college, and asks things like, "What's Galaga?" But I suspect she does it on purpose about half the time now...
It had two 5.25" diskettes to load the systems.
My dad let my brother and I take a couple retired disks home. We tried to play frisbee once or twice with them, and then wisely decided that was probably a bad idea.
Maybe the one you're using. But the "Save" icon in the most popular word processor is a 3.5" floppy disk: http://i.imgur.com/WLFtT7A.png
This is the latest version -- Word 2013.
System manuals piled high and wasted paper on the floor,
Longing for the warmth of bedsheets,
Still I sat there, doing spreadsheets:
Having reached the bottom line,
I took a floppy from the drawer.
Typing with a steady hand, I then invoked the SAVE command
But got instead a reprimand: it read "Abort, Retry, Ignore."
So, sooooo old.