Ancestry

Corngoblin just posted an elegy to his laptop, and has invoked the ghost of a story idea from many years ago.

Knew going in that the few hundred in obsolete computer parts and hours of online research, could have easily proved fruitless. Zeroes and ones, stored on thin magnetic circles enclosed in flimsy plastic sleeves, ancestors of today’s USB drives like a horse-drawn carriage is to a Ferrari. How long can this technology store data reliably — a year? Two? Five?

Twenty-nine seemed a stretch, I knew that going in. But the moment I found that box of floppies — instinct had compelled me to sort through the carton I had lugged around unopened through I can’t recall how many moves, their data created on a computer with a proprietary OS, both long abandoned — there was no choice for me but to explore whether their data could be restored on a modern system (Yes!) and if my PC maintenance skills were still sharp (Of course!). A journey that’s lead to this moment, reclining back into my home office chair as the first floppy (labeled 1987) spun noisily in its drive, the sound like a small animal squeaking with exertion, followed by the names of forgotten files dancing on the flat screen:

BUDGET.87

CHRCTRS (my abbreviation for Characters, working within the 8.3 naming restriction)

CHRCTRS2

CHRCTRS.OLD

DARNOLD (Darn Old? D Arnold?)

Thirty-four files on this floppy, the first of seventeen. Digital artifacts from a younger version of myself, a me I can barely remember. Someone less secure, yet more confident than the person I imagine myself to be now. Less afraid to take chances, make mistakes, of which he made many. Less inhibited, especially when writing.

Am I ready to confront that person who used to be me?

A rhetorical question at this point, for sure. But one worth asking, as I right-click my budget file for 1987 and select Open.

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