On Mon, 31 Mar 1997, Paul E Coad wrote:
My other worry is storage. Magnetic tapes and disks
do not last forever.
Hard disks do not last forever. How long until the last 8 incher finally
gives up the ghost and sheds all of its bits? I know that there are still
a few places which sell them, but how much longer will they be manufactured?
How long until the last MFM hard drive wears out?
Amazingly, all my Apple software starting from the mid-80s is still
functional. I used to pull each disk out and test for errors every now
and then but I haven't done this in probably 5 years. Recently I've been
playing with my Apple again and all my software seems to be still in
tact, but I worry about them degrading. I hope to transfer them all to
disk images on my PC (hopefully soon) so that as a side benefit I can
enjoy them on my emulator. I'm amazed that the disks are still sound
since I used to buy those bulk diskettes that you could get through
catalogs like Computer Direct ($.19 in quantities of 50). Those weren't
the best quality diskettes, or were they?
I also have a Sider ][ harddrive for my Apple that was probably
manufactured in 1984 or 1985 and it's still running fine (knock on
everything). Imagine that...a 12 year old MFM harddrive still going
strong. It used to run a BBS early on so its seen some days.
Most manuals were not printed on acid free paper, how
long until they
start to turn to dust?
How long do cassette tapes last?
In 50 to 100 years how many of the machines that run
fine today will
not be usable because there are no disks on which to store programs or
I was just thinking of this the other day. I haven't booted any of my
classic computers in a couple years. I'm afraid that the next time I
fire one up the circuits won't be able to handle the sudden current and
will fry. I was wondering if there was some way to start them off with
an undercurrent for a second or so and then go to full voltage. I don't
know if this is feasible or even recommended. Will this do more harm
I have come across some solutions, though none of them
Use a PC with a high grade sound card to store and load cassette data to
older machines. I don't personally know if anyone has really done this.
Good idea. Basically you are just sampling the cassette audio signals
and storing them on your PC hard drive.
Store critical data (ROM images) on punched mylar
I would simply store these as a disk image on a PC as well.
Store disk images on CDROM. (How long do these last?
I've heard 50
years, can anyone confirm this?) This has the problem of moving the
data from the CD to the target machine. I don't think that my PX-8
can understand ISO 9660 file systems.
Serial communications. Read each block of data from the source data
medium and transfer over the source's serial ports (if it is lucky enough
to have one) to your PC.
For the near term we can backup every disk we acquire.
Pull out the
old machines at least once a year and make new backups. Stockpile
anything which will wear out. Keep everything clean, out of direct
sunlight, and within a reasonable temperature range.
Good idea. I would also suggest using compressed air to blow out any
dust should your systems be exposed to any. I have most of my smaller
classic computers wrapped in anti-static bags that I got from worked and
then packed them in cardboard boxes with packing foam and taped up the
boxes. Snug as a bug.
Anyone have any really good long-term solutions for
of our machines?
Put them in stasis like in Star Trek. Store them in a vacuum. Clone
them like sheep.
Computer Historian, Programmer, Musician, Philosopher, Athlete, Writer, Jackass