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naperlou
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We've come a long way.
naperlou   8/28/2012 8:46:14 AM
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Reading through all the things you had to do in that era brings back memories.  The third party memory manager, the floppy disks to transfer data.  The problem with the magnetized screwdriver...  Much has changed, and improved, since those days.  Fortunately, the storage devices we now have are much more resilient. 

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: We've come a long way.
Jack Rupert, PE   8/28/2012 1:42:17 PM
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The other big change is that back then the Maintenance Station was considered a tool for the Maintenance Department, just like their meters and scopes.  Same thing for the "lunchbox" computers (i.e., the precursor to the laptops and tablets) that were used for system support.  Today's systems for those functions require multiple layers of signoff by IT.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: We've come a long way.
Rob Spiegel   8/28/2012 1:58:45 PM
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Talking about the era of disks, I recently noticed that the icon for saving Word files (in the upper left-hand corner) is a floppy disk. Funny that's still the image that Word uses all these years after the disk era.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: We've come a long way.
Jack Rupert, PE   8/28/2012 2:33:34 PM
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Good observation Rob.  I wonder how many people who click on that every day have actually used one...or a 5-1/4" which actually was floppy.

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: We've come a long way.
Rob Spiegel   8/28/2012 2:37:49 PM
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Yes, I remember the 5 1/4. I also remember a 7-inch disk that was used in typesetting machines. Remember typesetting machines? They were huge.

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: We've come a long way.
Nancy Golden   8/28/2012 4:51:41 PM
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I used to work on hall effects so naturally we had tons of magnets lying around - we had to be super careful keeping them away from any media. I remember when 5 1/4" floppies came out in different colors - we thought that was SO COOL!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: We've come a long way.
Rob Spiegel   8/28/2012 5:00:45 PM
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I remember the colors when they came out, too, Nancy. It seemed so surprising. I was never a big fan of the disk. They failed so often. I remember sending articles to magazines on those disks. Every so often the disk would arrive at the editor's desk unreadable. Quite a pain.

Nancy Golden
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Platinum
Re: We've come a long way.
Nancy Golden   8/28/2012 5:28:31 PM
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Kids today have no idea how dedicated you had to be in order to be a techie back in the day! 3 1/2"s were a big improvement and CDs were phenomenal...WOW! We can really store some stuff, baby!

Seems USB drives are the storage of choice now...which I must admit are much hardier - they are almost teenager proof! A friend of mine told me you can no longer buy a new car that will take a multiple CD deck even after market - USB ports are the only game in town.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: We've come a long way.
Rob Spiegel   8/29/2012 10:38:30 AM
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Yes, back in those early PC days, even a casual user had to learn DOS codes. I remember what a shock it was the first time I saw a PC without a 5 1/4 inch port, then seeing the first PC without a 3 1/2 inch port. 

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Platinum
Re: We've come a long way.
OLD_CURMUDGEON   8/29/2012 11:02:23 AM
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LAFF NOT, youngsters!  I STILL have my original I-B-M PC that I bought brand-spanking new in October, 1981, AND it still works!!!  I also have the original I-B-M green monitor & the keyboard.  The keyboard must have been hewn from a solid block of aluminium since it weighs a ton!  The PC (model 5150) has two 5 1/4" floppy drives, but it also has a 10 MEGAbyte PLUS Hardcard in one of the 5 available expansion slots.  And, it's got a multifunction accessory board, which provided the 640K extra memory, Day & Date clock, and an extra set of RS-232 ports.  I keep it now strictly for nostalgia, however in decades past it provided many hours of productive use, and served as the "front end" for small, table-top variant of the SYSTEM 36 mini-computer.  What was really convenient was that with a hot-key sequence, one could instantaneously switch from PC-DOS based applications to the SYSTEM 36 mode, but one could not share data easily, since the SYS 36 applications were in EBCDIC, whereas the PC apps were coded in ASCII.  The "baby-36", as it was called also had its own internal hard drive, which stored the operating system (SSP), and all the programs & data.  One could write applications in ASSEMBLER, BASIC, COBOL & RPG II.  The compilers were all available for this model.  The case was about the same size as  the I-B-M 286 PC, and included a 5 1/4" (1.2MB) Floppy drive, but it formatted differently than the native PC formatting.

Today, I still use a DELL 486/33 (desktop PC for one task, MANAGING YOUR MONEY by ANDREW TOBIAS.  It has ALL the financial wizardry that most people could ever need.  It runs on MS-DOS 5.0, and there is NO connection to the internet, so I do not have to concern myself with phishing, viruses, malware, etc.  And, since I have a large store of 5 1/4" (360K & 1.2MB) diskettes, and an equal large store of 1.4 MB 3 1/2" diskettes, I'm pretty much set for life!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, the SIMPLE LIFE!!!!!!!

p.s.  Of course, I also have my current DELL Tower & my ACER laptop, but they're running WINDOWS XP, SP3, the LAST stable, convenient & intelligent opsys from MICROSOFT.

Colorado Native
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Silver
Re: We've come a long way.
Colorado Native   8/29/2012 4:52:35 PM
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I'm with you OLD_CURMUDGEON, I still have a funcioning 5 1/2" and 3 1/2" dual and single drives, they work quite well and I've had very little trouble with them over the years.  While I can see the logic of using a CD or DVD for large file storage and sometimes a flash drive, I still find it much more convenient to use floppies and I've made sure my kid's computers also have floppy drives.  I also still prefer XP and see no valid reason to 'upgrade' to OS which have not proved to be stable, WIN 7 maybe, Vista was an unqualified failure!

I've been rather annoyed with our school district dropping floppy drives, the kids seem to lose or damage those little flash drives way too often to suit me.

I do use CD and DVD disks for very large data archive storage, which sometimes doesn't work all that well, they don't always want to read out or record right.  I've had difficulty with DVD disks from other computers (not movies, data disks) not reading and it has often been a hassel getting the data on CDs.

Solid state drives are still way too expensive and so far, haven't proven their long term reliability as yet....I wouldn't send them on a NASA mission quite yet.

The latest, greatest isn't always the best thing to use, these days many of these hot new items really need to prove themselves and some of them aren't doing so good.

I also remember the 8" 'floppy' disks and the huge IBM mainframe disk drives (might as well mention those giant tape drives too).  I think we are often too much in a hurry to discard old technology for new and that has caused many problems, NASA comes to mind for one example, they have a great many data tapes with valuable data on them and they don't have any way of reading them, they threw out all of the compatible drives years ago but didn't transfer the data to the new medium...oops!

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Platinum
Re: We've come a long way.
OLD_CURMUDGEON   8/30/2012 9:01:13 AM
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Colorado Native:

What hands me a real laugh is that they touted the CD-ROM, and later, the DVD, as the perfect solutions for large data storage, most notably the collection of digital photographs that people amassed as a result of the mass exodus from film photography.  Then, some few years later, it was also reported that the "life expectancy" for the integrity of the data contained on these media formats was very limited, in some published reports, as little as FIVE years!!!  I have data on 360K diskettes that is approaching THIRTY years old, and is STILL VERY READABLE.  The interesting thing is that these diskettes are not being stored in a climate-controlled container.  They are in a typical diskette storage bin that was popular in that era.

Regarding WINDOWS opsys.  I had an H-P laptop, bought it brand-spanking new from MICRO CENTER to use as a platform for storing & editing my extensice collection of photographs.  It came w/ WINDOWS 7.  After suffering through it's "weirdness" for over a year, I removed all my personal files and sold it.  I then transferred all the programs (PHOTOSHOP, etal) to my ACER laptop w/ WINDOWS XP PRO, and am very pleased with the results.  Finally, to avoid the life expectancy situation w/ the media, I use several external WESTERN DIGITAL hard disks (USB ported) to save the image files.  I have two for the original image files, and two for the edited image files. These are all either 500Gbytes or larger, and since they're so inexpensive, it makes the most sense to me. 

failureindesign
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Gold
Re: We've come a long way.
failureindesign   9/21/2012 6:00:53 PM
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The part they leave out when tooting DVDs for long term storage (50-100 year) is that you must use actual "archival quality" DVDs. They are manufactured differently to prevent deterioration of the metallized recording surface.

They can be bought but not at general retail outlets (eg, Staples, Wal-Mart, etc.) and the price is not for the faint of heart.

For example, the list price on Verbatim 95355 (DVD-R 4.7GB 8X 50 / spindle) are $160 but you can get them for $80 over at Amazon.

For archiving lots of files permanently (200 year rating), you'll need archival bluray like Delkin Devices' archival blu-ray discs (BD-R 25GB 4X 10 / spindle). Amazon has them for $250; but they ship for free! LoL

Still cheaper and more reliable than tape drives or NAS boxes I suppose. :-)

 

kenish
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Platinum
Re: We've come a long way.
kenish   8/31/2012 5:38:31 PM
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One job in college was a production tech at a 5.25" floppy drive manufacturer. All sorts of pots to tweak and strange problems in the read channel.  At a later job I recall the Digital Equipment RK-05 disk drives.  2.5MB fixed and 2.5MB removable pack in a 19" rack.  The drive weighed about 150 pounds and the removable pack was a round plastic housing the size of a large pizza which protected the platter inside.  (Kids, google "DEC RK05")

Bloating file sizes and media capacity seem chicken-and-egg...I wonder which drives which?

Rob Spiegel
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Blogger
Re: We've come a long way.
Rob Spiegel   9/5/2012 5:09:41 PM
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The drive weighed 150 pounds? That's amazing. And a plastic housing the size of a large pizza!

Tim
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Platinum
Data Transfer
Tim   8/28/2012 7:18:53 PM
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At my first job out of college, I used a CAD station that had a 50 Mb hard drive and a 3 1/2" floppy.  As there was no e-mail or network, it was hard working on a project was we had to save to floppies to transfer between engineers.  We ended up installing compatible tape backups on the computers that would allow us to effectively transfer files between computers (as long as they were not above 50 Mb).

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: Data Transfer
Jack Rupert, PE   8/28/2012 8:39:45 PM
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@Tim, that reminds me of my first PC I got when I started college.  Two 5-1/4" drives with no hard drive.  That was enough to use WordPerfect in one drive (it came on a total of 2) and use the other dirve for data.  I upgraded to a 30MB drive a year or two later.  It also had a monochrome monitor, but a Hercules card to due graphics.

3drob
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Platinum
Re: Data Transfer
3drob   8/29/2012 9:35:11 AM
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Ahhhhh, the good old days!  Wow does this bring back memories.

When I was in high school our PC's had 8" floppies!  I remember when they came out with the 1.2MB 5 1/4" disks (a big jump over the 360KB).  So much stuff you could fit onto them.  Then the 720K 3 1/2", then the 1.44MB 3 1/2"!

I remember working hard to get my entire OS on one disk (including the memory manager) so I could boot with only one disk (no swapping).  Then pull out that disk so you could put your program disk in to run something.  If you were lucky, you had two disk drives (or even better, you set up a RAM disk so your most used DOS utilities were available all the time, without hunting for a disk).  You really had to understand the machine to be able to do that.

Now, my digital camera takes still pictures that wont even fit on the largest floppies (>10MB).  Its memory card is 32GB (> 20,000 times larger) and almost indestructable.  Amazing when you look back on it.

Jack Rupert, PE
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Data Transfer
Jack Rupert, PE   8/29/2012 2:33:27 PM
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@3drob, I used to have a display of "old media" hanging on my cube wall at a previous employer.  It started with the insides of a failed 5-1/4".  Other made "donations" as they cleaned out their drawers to include a punch card. some punched tape, a magnetic cassette, and an EPROM (one with the window for erasing it with UV). 

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Data Transfer
OLD_CURMUDGEON   8/29/2012 2:44:14 PM
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When we moved several years ago, I found boxes of Hollerith cards w/ programs & data decks for two machines, one in AUTOCODER for a 1401 & the other in FORTRAN IV for an 1130!  Didn't keep them!  I'm sure those missile systems of the Age of Enlightenment aren't in operation anymore!  Also had a large carton of I-B-M 8" 2S/2D (1.1 MB) diskettes in the blue boxes.  Used on Sys 3X, etc., and some "H" format diskettes for the 5110, 5120, etc.

p.s.  The DELL Tower w/ WINDOWS XP (PRO) that I mentioned previously has a 3 1/2" floppy besides the CD-ROM drive & the DVD Reader/Writer.  Does anyone realize how GREAT it is to type a letter in WORD, AND save it to a floppy drive?  Buttering bread is much more difficult!!!  LONG LIVE floppy diskettes!!!

 

3drob
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Data Transfer
3drob   8/29/2012 6:12:38 PM
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THat's funny.  I had a similar display in my cube (alas, it didn't survive one of my recent moves).

My first laptop (a sharp PC5000) had removable bubble memory.  Still have it (it mostly works).

I hope no one mentions VHS/Beta tapes ...

Colorado Native
User Rank
Silver
Re: Data Transfer
Colorado Native   8/30/2012 12:12:43 PM
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Well, since you mentioned it, I still have a large working library of VHS tapes and a fully operable VHS (Toshiba) deck, another one on standby.  I have programs and movies which were never released on DVD and while there is some difference in picture quality, a high quality VHS tape still produces a very good picture on a big screen set.

Oh, I also have a large library of audio cassettes and reel to reel tapes with excellent tape decks, all working very nicely, I prefer the reels and I also have two turntables, one DUAL primarily for playing 78s but also covers 45s and 33 1/3 platters too, I have a large library of records, over 2,000 LPs and hundreds of 78s.  As long as we're talking media, I also have a player piano and hundreds of rolls, some over 80 years old.

It still remains to be seen whether or not the latest media formats will have the lasting power of the old, supposedly obsolete, formats.  New doesn't guarantee better.

Tool_maker
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Platinum
Re: Data Transfer
Tool_maker   9/13/2012 1:11:26 PM
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Now somebody hit a nerve. Why the full warm sound of vinyl records was ever replaced by the mechanics of digital has always been a mystery to me. I know records could not be played in a moving car, but tape recorders took car of that. I also have thousands of vinyl discs and even a few bakelite 78's. They are decades old and still faithfully perform.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Data Transfer
OLD_CURMUDGEON   9/24/2012 8:44:11 AM
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Enjoyed reading of your collection!  Ours is not so large, but we do have a significant collection of LP's, dating from the 1950s forward, mostly the classics, Broadway show tunes, & some early R&R.  And, we have a significant collection of VHS tapes dating from that era, which play quite well on our recorders, a PANASONIC unit & a ZENITH unit.  Unfortunately, the SONY unit gave up the ghost due to an idler roller problem, which was unrepairable.  That broke my heart because the ONE (SONY) remote controller also handled all the functions of the 30 year old SONY 26" console TV, which continues to produce an excellent picture.  SONY, the ONE & ONLY!!!

Our stereo setup also has a DUAL changer & a KENWOOD dual deck Cassette recorder/playback unit.  When cassettes were popular, I always bought the best quality tapes that were available.  It just made sense then, and I'm glad that I did it.

I am NOT averse to advances in technology.  IF I were, I certainly would not have chosen a design engineering career, but I question the pace of new technology introduction presently.  I believe that it has been raised to a fever pitch for NO real meaningful end, other than to say, "OH!, look what we just invented!"  Without treading into the "green" minefield, the only people I see benefitting are the landfill operators, as we turn yesterday morning's wunder-product into digestible material for "the smasher"!

notarboca
User Rank
Gold
Re: Data Transfer
notarboca   9/29/2012 5:13:03 PM
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Wow, great to hear about old technologies in everyone's collection.  I still have a working Sony Betamax (suitcase sized)!

William K.
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Platinum
The data corrupting pocket caper
William K.   8/28/2012 8:10:17 PM
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I have used the 3 1/2 inch floppy disk for many years and not had one fail, except for those that either got wet or had pop spilled on them. The cheaper drives were not so reliable, though.

But do you really want to give out multi-dollar memory sticks to pass out documents of only a few dozen K? when a floppy disk, not discounted, cost maybe 5 cents? And I do know several folks who have had memory sticks just die on them, and nothing was recoverable. At least from a disk it is often possible to recover most of a damaged document. IT might not be good for code, but recovering most of a document has a lot of value.

Also, we discovered that the 3 1/2 inch floppies were not so very easy to damage with a magnet, although it certainly was possible.

BrainiacV
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Platinum
Disks and magnets
BrainiacV   8/29/2012 9:21:33 AM
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A friend used to work in tech support at an insurance company.  They'd send out disks to various departments and one particular department always complained the disk they received would be unreadable.

After sending several replacement disks they decided to visit the manager and see what the problem was.  My friend went to the manager's cube and asked to see the disk before they tried to use it.

The manager spun around in his chair and (you guessed it) removed the magnet holding the disk to his file cabinet and handed my friend the disk.

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Disks and magnets
Tool_maker   9/27/2012 4:18:50 PM
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  I am not very computer savy. I know how to do what I know how to do and all else is witchcraft. I have been told that earth tremors can corrupt data on magnetic media. Is this true? If so, why? How big of a tremor does it take?

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Disks and magnets
OLD_CURMUDGEON   10/2/2012 8:56:06 AM
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IF you read about it, or was told about tremors & data corruption being from a "source" on the internet, it's probably a bunch of malarkey!!!!!  Just like IVORY soap commercials of decades ago, "It's 99.9% pure, so it gfloats!"  Well, what you read on the internet is also 99.9% "PURE" ....... pure B.S., that is!!!

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Disks and magnets
Tool_maker   10/2/2012 9:35:36 AM
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No actually this was told to me by a my boss shortly after he came to the company for which I worked it the late 70's. This was a time when companies were first moving into computerized inventories etc. We were advised to always keep our back-up files at a remote location. I asked why and was given the tremors explanation. He claimed to have experienced the corrupted data/tremors relationship.

As to Ivory soap, I recall a study in the early 70's, I think by Consumers Union that the claim was true. All Ivory were claiming was that it was soap. No detergents and no by products or impurities, and that claim was factual. Then again that was 40+ years ago so I may be in error.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Disks and magnets
OLD_CURMUDGEON   10/2/2012 9:56:21 AM
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As far as Data Corruption & Tremors, is concerned, since you reference many decades ago as the reference, maybe it was because disk crashes were very prevalent back then.  The read/write head technology wasn't as mechanically secure as it is nowadays, and any low frequency vibration could cause the head to literally plop down (a computerese technical term!) onto the spinning platter, literally causing it to dig into the highly polished & coated surface, thus causing the "crash".

Cncerning the IVORY soap commercials, going back as long as I can remember into the 1940s, that was their slogan ...... "So pure, it floats".  And, you're exactly correct .... it was to counter some "modern" soap products that included perfumes, and other additives which some claimed detracted from the purity of the soap product.  I guess IVORY still floats .... we don't use it ..... have "graduated" to more modern alternatives.  Oh, well, time marches on!!

wbswenberg
User Rank
Gold
Sneaker net
wbswenberg   8/29/2012 11:32:04 AM
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Still using sneaker net at home.  The WIFE pounds in the checks on the MAC Si2 and I blance on Mac G3 laptop.

I remember giving her a ring when we were going together.  A Harrix /5 mag tape write ring.  It did not go over well.  Electrical engineering humor is lost on non EEs.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Sneaker net
tekochip   8/31/2012 11:19:29 AM
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When surface mount was still new, unusual and cool I gave a pair of small boards to my girlfriend and she made them into earrings.  It was the Eighties, and the earrings seemed to go with everything.


270mag
User Rank
Iron
Humans,
270mag   5/6/2013 5:08:39 PM
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There's that pesky human element again. You just can't get around people using your stuff.



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