Floppy Disks Getting Rarer

I didn’t even know Sony was still manufacturing floppy disks, but they’ve announced that production will be ended early next year.

I still have a bunch of these in a shrink wrapped box (just in case I ever want to save a new file on my Commodore 64) — but those are even more rare, because the Commodore drives use an older double-density format.

Remember those floppy disk cases that let you organize the disks like they were paper in file folders?

Interestingly (well, to me), I have old floppy disks from the eighties that have outlasted burned DVDs and CDs from the early 2000s.

Old Video Games in Tulsa

Yesterday we stopped by the Oklahoma Video Game Exhibition in Tulsa. If the OVGE was about the latest video games, I wouldn’t be interested. But an exhibition where people are showing their “old computer” collections and trading rare games, hardware, and software? We’re there! Here are some photos.

I think this afternoon, the Commodore 128 is getting pulled from the closet and set up in the spare bedroom.

Business reading: Google and Commodore

Current business reading: The Google Story. I’m about a third of the way through this book about the guys who started Google and the empire they created. It’s an interesting read, but its clear the author is in awe of the folks behind Google. If you can get past that, though, there is something here for you, assuming you like to read about how successful businesses started (as I do).

A more interesting (in my opinion) business book that I recently read is On The Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore. If you have a fondness for the early Commodore machines, as I do for the Commodore 64, you’ll enjoy this book packed with insider information about how Commodore became the most powerful and successful personal computer company in history, only to lose it all in the end.

Retro Computing Review: The Home Computer Wars

Mini-review of The Home Computer Wars (Michael S. Tomczyk, 1984, Compute! Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-94238675-2)

If you are 1., a computer industry history enthusiast, and 2., ever owned a Commodore computer such as the PET, VIC-20, or Commodore 64, then you should try to find a copy of The Home Computer Wars by Michael S. Tomczyk. Most computer history books I have read seem to only mention Commodore as a footnote, never seeming to give it its proper dues or recognizing how it impacted the industry. As far as I know, this book is the most detailed available when it comes to Commodore’s role in the history of computing.

The Home Computer Wars is subtitled “An Insider’s Account of Commodore and Jack Tramiel.” And that it is. This book is short on technical detail but heavy on the inside information on what went on in Commodore from 1980 to 1984. From the perspective of a fanatical Commodore user from the 80s (like yours truly), the most interesting aspect of this book is Tomczyk’s chronicle of the creation and marketing of the VIC-20. The VIC-20 was the predecessor to the C64, and it could be argued (as Tomczyk does) that the VIC-20 was the first real home computer “for the masses.”

This book is as much about Jack Tramiel as it is about computers. Tramiel was Commodore, and his method of management and goals for the company were called “the Commodore Religion,” and the insiders of Commodore who believed in his vision were called “Commodorians” by Tomczyk. Tramiel was a holocaust survivor that rebuilt a small calculator company into the first computer company to have over a billion dollars of revenue in a year.

It’s quite educational to read a home computer “history” book that was written long before the world decided on the “PC clones” that most of us use now. 1984 was still an era where the computer industry was barely beginning to emerge from a technological dark age of competing and incompatible platforms. In keeping with the theme of the title, Tomczyk writes as if he were a soldier in the trenches of a protracted land war. It’s a great read if you have the interest in the subject matter. Get a copy if you can. As of this writing, the author of the book is selling original first editions from his personal stock on Amazon.