3.5″ discs

In the course of moving out of my old office, I’m trying to throw out what I can, which is usually a struggle for me. One problem is deciding what to do with boxes of 3.5″ discs. It’s a long time since I had a PC that would even read these, though actually, I could read them using an old laptop if needed. In most cases it’s difficult to know exactly what’s on them. Old sets of discs used to install software (hard to remember the days when one used to install programs by laboriously feeding in a stack of twenty discs) are first to go in the bin, but a disc just labelled “WP backup files” I’m inclined to keep.

I’m sorry to part with them partly because I do feel they are nice objects. There’s something physically satisfying about these little squares of plastic with the sliding metal top. A CD-ROM just doesn’t have the same mystique.

They used to be referred to as “floppies” even though they didn’t flop in the least. An interesting case of linguistic hangover; the older type of computer disc was floppy, and so the word “floppy” just stuck to any small portable disc used for storing computer data (or “diskette”, sometimes). There was a move to introduce the word “stiffies” as more descriptive, but that usage never caught on. Probably just as well.

Oh, and I do still have some proper floppies – 5.25″ discs, and they are even harder to read. There used to be one ancient PC preserved in the office just to access this type of disc, but I’m sure it’s long gone. Not only that; I even have some 8″ discs, and those are really floppy. I don’t think any PC ever read 8″ discs; even more unreadable.  But also, the files on them are less likely exist in other copies, so I’m hanging on to them just in case!

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