Even after the great closet clean-out of December, 2007, my closet is still kinda full. Well, very full actually. One of the things it’s full of is old software program disks and manuals. In this corner, we have the game Master of Orion II for Macs, issued in the mid-1990s. That’s fine as there’s also a copy of the Mac OS 9 install disks not to mention Windows 95, 98 and 2000. In slightly more modern offerings there’s a disk to install the Palm Pilot version of the Zagat Restaurant Guide circa the year 2000 and every version of Microsoft Office going back to floppy disks. Speaking of floppy disks, I see a floppy for the game Railroad Tycoon. That’s the original issue, not even the first deluxe upgrade, that probably came out in 1989 or 1990.
Even my organizing scheme for fairly current software is a mess, with some stuff neatly stacked in my office, other stuff hidden away in drawers and the occasional scattered disks just hanging around the house waiting to be lost or scratched.
So what’s up? Why save old programs? I have two excuses. First, I have this vague theory that I’ll need one of those programs some day to boot up an ancient computer and retrieve a critical, long-lost file. I discovered this year, for example, that the current version of TurboTax can’t actually open tax files prepared in earlier years. Sure, it can read a little data from the previous year’s return, but that’s it. Want to see what you deducted in 2002 as a capital loss? Better have the paper print out.
But that doesn’t quite cover everything that’s saved.
I’m also prepared in case I find some cool, old hardware that one of the kids wants to play with and I need some of the oldies to get it working. That actually happened one time, when we found an old Toshiba hand-held PocketPC running an even more ancient version of Windows CE. It worked as a nifty wireless web browser for a few months until the battery stopped charging (even with a new battery) and we abandon it for the second time. I’ve also recently come back into possession of a seven-year-old Shuttle SV24 mini PC running Windows 98. I wonder what software we have in the closet for that baby?
Hmm — that still doesn’t explain everything, though. I guess in the end I have a nostalgic attachment to some of those oldies. I want to be able to take my future grandchildren up to the attic and show them how computers used to be, back when we had keyboards and mice and printers and fax machines, when computer games were filled with blocky, rectangular graphics and Wordperfect was the order of the day.
So tell me, what are you saving? What’s in your software vault? And what suggestions do you have for keeping things organized?