A: Drive

At first, you could only find them in black. Then one company had the bright idea of making them available in color. After all, with the outside being plastic there was an opportunity beyond the label to be creative. Manufactures included 3M, Precision,Maxwell.  These were the 3 1/2″ little hard floppies that replaced the larger 5 1/4″ softer floppies which in turn were the successor to the 8″ large floppies (see Wang System Dedicated Wordprocessors) .

borrowed from Wiki


The drives into which you inserted your removable media were labeled by capital alphabet letters. If you want all the details – Wiki (as usual) has a decent and moderately understandable explanation of the hows and whys. Lets just say that most of us never really got why the “micro diskettes” with their whopping 1.4 MEG (double sided high density) went into the A: drive while the older floppies that had been around for years more went into the drive which was now designated B:  Once computers had a hard drive – it was normally C: It was quite a while later than D: appeared (CD drive) if there wasn’t more than one hard drive. That CD drive never did have a fixed, permanent letter.

In case you hadn’t recognized it, I am primarily discussing the CP/M, DOS, OS/2. WIN etc operating systems and their way of designating drives.

I still have a few hundred of these pesky things around. I have a number of MS-DOS programs in their original 1990’s decade of release. Having those diskettes and the original registration numbers has saved me $$$ on updates on several of the programs. Others? Not so much. But for how long was I planning on hanging on to all of these?

At one time, we had some external A: drives. But they needed either a serial or a parallel port. I forget but it really doesn’t matter since I haven’t had a laptop with either of those for a significant number of years. And then there was the move and I think they didn’t make the boat. So I finally broke down and spent a whomping $14US to purchase a USB A: drive. So far this evening I have made it through over 75 diskettes and found some real treasure. Old documents, War College papers, pictures.


Miriam – 2001


sock yarn stash 1999


Noah 2001

2003 – Maus selfie…


So if anyone is suffering from overload and needs a return to the 80s and 90s – please let me know. I will gladly send you original MS-DOS programs. For that matter, if you happen to need a copy of MS Windows 3.1 , I have that as well…..

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About Holly

fiber person - knitter, spinner, weaver who spent 33 years being a military officer to fund the above. And home. And family. Sewing and quilting projects are also in the stash. After living again in Heidelberg after retiring (finally) from the U.S. Army May 2011, we moved to the US ~ Dec 2015. Something about being over 65 and access to health care. It also might have had to do with finding a buyer for our house. Allegedly this will provide me a home base in the same country as our four adult children, all of whom I adore, so that I can drive them totally insane. Considerations of time to knit down the stash…(right, and if you believe that…) and spin and .... There is now actually enough time to do a bit of consulting, editing. Even more amazing - we have only one household again. As long as everyone understands that I still, 40 years into our marriage, don't do kitchens or bathrooms. For that matter, not being a golden retriever, I don't do slippers or newspapers either. I don’t miss either the military or full-time clinical practice. Limiting my public health/travel med/consulting and lecturing to “when I feel like it” has let me happily spend my pension cruising, stash enhancing (oops), arguing with the DH about where we are going to travel next and book buying. Life is good!
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14 Responses to A: Drive

  1. Val says:

    Bring on the Cloud – well it might be a late comer but it will solve this decades long problem 🙂

    Glad you found something of value having kept your floppies for so long 🙂

    • Holly says:

      I’ve had every kind of media fail over the years. I love using the cloud for temp, un critical backup. But give me 2-3x in hard media any day!

  2. Pat K says:

    Interesting reminder of what was once norm. Enjoyed the memory jog.

  3. Bob says:

    Just be sure that USB A drive is duplicated or at least part of an ongoing backup scheme—they tend to wear out or break just like anything else connected with computers. Keeping you in thought and prayers.

    • Holly says:

      Oh yah. Actually, I am tossing the puppies. They will go to the recycle center unless you want them?

  4. Alison says:

    What a find! Glad you got your pictures!

  5. Steve says:

    Hey…this brought back memories!

    Back when I built systems at work, one thing I put in the desktops were combo 5.25 / 3.14 drives…they fit in a standard desktop taking the place of one slot as they were doubledecker and with the change of one jumper, you could set it up as A or B….it didn’t care.

    • Holly says:

      and there is probably only one other person reading this who might understand our geek speak!

  6. Jill says:

    Hey! I do.. I’ve changed/added a few hard drives to my desk tops over the years. In fact I predate the 5.25 drives. My first computer was a Sega, yes the dame people, on whichI learnt to program in dos. It used magnetic audio tape for storage.

  7. Jill says:

    Whoops, that should read the game people.

    • Holly Doyne says:

      I knew exactly what you meant. You might win on those, but I still have …… punch cards!

  8. Helen says:

    I could wish for those simplier times. My google keeps acting up and I’ve not figured out what is causing it. Agrrrr.

  9. Janet says:

    I finally got rid of most of mine. Loaded the important things on an external drive and destroyed the rest…

  10. Carmen says:

    Most of mine are gone now. I copied the pictures and that’s that.

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