A Letter From Computing Past

marge-simpsonOne of the charms of working with old Macs and their associated data are the periodic glimpses of simpler computing times past. These include intricately decorated floppy disk labels, personalized naming schemes, and cute folder graphics. Who didn’t have a set of the Simpsons icons?

Recently I received a set of floppy disks containing the contents of a old book. It was written twenty years ago in Microsoft Word on a Mac Plus, and the writer’s family was looking to convert the files into something current. Along with the disks was a copy of a letter written by the author to the publisher, which really brought back memories of computing in the early 1990s:

September 1992

I trust by now you have received the two disks I mailed to you. The reason for the delay was the fact we had only one Master disk needed to boot up the “Book disk” and all our own data as well. In order to send it to you we first had to order a new program (MicroSoft doesn’t make our old program anymore) and then change over all our data to the new disk. Not too easy and it all took time.

I don’t know if you have worked on the Macintosh Plus, which is our computer, but the Book is set up with the Bookman type. We use a Lazer Printer that spews out camera-ready copy for you to give to the offset printer. If you find you need the whole book printed out by us before sending it to the book printer, please feel free to send it back to us.

You will notice on the disk that the book is divided into sections by page numbers. This is simply to give our printer a breathing space and time to cool down between sections. If you crash the whole program, never fear, we made a copy before sending it to you.

Ah yes – waiting to let the printer cool down! How true it was. If you printed more than a few dozen pages in a row on any of those early desktop units they might shut down as a self-protection mechanism. And there was a time when your System Folder, word processing program and documents were all on a single floppy disk.

Incidentally, I believe you can use the Microsoft program on any Macintosh. We had to buy a hard drive in order to do the book, but we have been delighted to have it anyway.

Kids today just don’t know how easy they have things…

One response to “A Letter From Computing Past”

  1. Adam Rosen says:


    Matt Kuhns said…
    Darn kids. I remember back when all we had were wood-burning computers! ;-) Actually, though, I do remember a lot of this. Aside from a Commodore 64 which was basically just a gaming console, I never had a pre- hard disk computer, but I sure do recall when those hard disks were so small that moving data to a floppy disk made a genuine difference.

    Nowadays I can have a 7 or 8 MB file, and it’s about even odds that I’ll just squint at it for a moment and say “eh, I bet I can just squeeze it through as an e-mail attachment…”
    October 22, 2012 at 9:24 PM

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