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Those were the days

July 20, 2016

Remember ZIP drives and disks? It wasn’t all that long ago that they were the thing in storage media. (Mid-1990s to be exact, and you may or may not agree that it wasn’t “all that long ago.”)

True, the disks weren’t cheap. Each cost about $10 but they could store what was then considered to be a ton of data. Having been on the bleeding edge of technology throughout my career, I got into ZIP media in a big way. Today, I have a king’s ransom tied up in old ZIP disks (see how cleverly I worked in the title of one of my novels?).

Today we have other storage options: CDs and DVDs, inexpensive external hard drives, tiny media sticks that can hold gigabytes of data in a space smaller than my thumb, bricks with terabytes worth of capacity, cloud storage, etc. Before I pitch my extensive collection of old ZIP disks, though, I had to see what’s on them. While I no longer have a computer with a ZIP drive, I was able to get my hands on an external drive with a USB connection.

One by one, I read the drives. Most held complete image backups of CPUs that long ago got e-recycled. I could break into them, but most consist of business files of which I either have another copy or are obsolete.

What made the excavation worth the time, however, were the writings that I found: short stories, poems, early incarnations of novels, and chapters of novels that I don’t remember writing. Some are so old that they were written using WordPerfect. (Remember WP? Frankly, I found it superior to what I’m using now.) Wherever did I find the time to do all this creative writing? I was no less busy then than I am now.

Even more startling is how good my early work is. Early efforts to get it published met with rejection, leaving me to conclude that my writing wasn’t good enough. It so happens that it was plenty good enough. Earlier this year, two stories originally penned in the 1990s were published and well-received by readers and critics.

I also found files for “Fiction Master,” writing software that I don’t remember buying, much less using. Since I did save the exe. file, I may just fire it up one of these days to see what it’s about.

After I sift through the scores (hundreds?) of old Zip disks, I can tackle the boxes of floppies that I’ve kept. Who knows what gems I’ll find? All I’ll need are hours of uncommitted time and a drive that can read ’em.


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