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Wow. What would happen if one of those floppies were damaged or unreadable? Would the whole process be a waste of time?

Back in My Day when people had POTS modems [0], I once downloaded the ~20 disks of the b'a'se and 'n'etwork slackware disk series in windows 95 and rebooted to install, hoping that none of the disks were bad.

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.

[0] like these ( http://az413224.vo.msecnd.net/img/40934/m_40934_1.jpg ) not these ( http://images.yourdictionary.com/images/computer/_ACUPLER.GI... ).

I logged in to upvote this story because I encountered the same problem on a military communications system once (!) There was an interaction between the system beep() function and message processing throughput. If a large number of alerts ever queued up, communications slowed to a crawl as the CPU spent all its time going "beeeeeeep...beeeeeeep...beeeeeeep..." for a few minutes. Moving the mouse caused a rapid-fire "bebebebebebebebebebebeeep" as the buffers flushed and throughput returned to normal.

Even worse was illegal software. There were 720KB (Double Density) and 1440KB (High Density) 3.5" diskettes (amongst other sizes). The disk drive would detect the difference by an extra hole in the disk.

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 used an Xacto knife to create an extra notch in Commodore 64 5.25" disks back in the day so that I could take the single-sided disks and make them double-sided.

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.

I had a special square cutter tool specifically designed for this purpose. Just slot the disk in the tool, punch, done.

It helped when you were putting out hundreds of disks of pirated games on a regular basis.

I had a little switch to bypass the optical notch-detector on my 1541 drive.

I still think the single-sided disks were from the same production line as the double sided ones, and it was all market segmentation.

I did the same. And disks were a bit expensive to a kid like me, so I'd even do the cut on various game disks I had, since many of them were single side only, and it was like getting a free disk.

standard paper hole punch worked too, given enough hand strength :)

"... flipped the disk over..."

They called them flippy disks...

Haha, yeah, there was this thing that was advertised as a "disk doubler", and all it did was drill a hole through your 3.5 single density disk. In retrospect it was quite the ingenious scam.

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...

Later on in the 90s, AOL started sending 3.5" disks in the mail, totally free. How convenient was that?

Yes. It was usually the last disk.

Yea, pretty much. That's why you had backups of any important software (copying floppies was a really fun process). Once the disk died, you were screwed if you didn't have a backup copy of it.

That's why you had a backup set of those disks.

Many of the MS disks used weird methods and formats, making copying the discs not easy.


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