Death by a thousand cuts.
Yesterday, the BBC published a paper titled “R.I.P. VHS”. According to the reporter, the last VCR will be produced this month in Japan. In two paragraphs, the VHS tape is declared deceased and swiftly buried. Goneski! Sure, it is not the first, nor the last digital media to disappear, flushed-out of our lives by the technological progress. While reading the news, I made myself the following reflection: “at least, I didn’t witness the birth of this one”. I do not know for you, but I’ve seen the birth and death of the 3.5” floppy, the ZIP, the JAZZ, the Bernoulli and I kept my all times favorite: The Laserdisc. So fellow collectors, I think that it is time to stock up! Finding most of these media is still fairly easy. The biggest issue to me is lying in the devices or players. Let’s play a game. I would bet that we all have at least one functional 3.5” floppy drive – at least if you are versed in retro-computing, which I will assume as we go onward. The PC, Atari, Amiga or MSX systems, all have at least one. Ok, this was easy. What about a 5.25” floppy drive? I am pretty sure that by now our group shrunk substantially. Sure, a 386 PC or an Apple II can keep you in the club, but what about 8” floppy drive? Now we are talking! At this stage I have to give back my member card, because even though I have a drive and one floppy – yes only one –, I have no working system to operate it. And reviving such system is not an easy task. It is one that I would describe as dying by a thousand cuts. To most of us, this is not a big deal and we can in many cases revert to using an emulator and pull most of the media from the web. Between the latter solution – very convenient indeed –, and maintaining working systems and media – challenging but captivating –, there is room for a third path: replace the storage sub-system with a modern substitution. There are multiple products available to perform such replacement (see a floppy and SCSII to SD interfaces pictures), and many of them are configured ready-to use for the most iconic systems. Sure, the transplanted system is not original anymore, but it will be fully functional for the next decade.