Floppy Longevity

This week, I received a package in the mail. From my mother. Inside was a treasure:

A bunch of my 3.5 inch floppy disks! All of these are at least 20 years old, so I was pretty curious if any of them could still be read.

Modern macOS dropped the ability to read floppy disks a few versions ago, but thankfully I still have a 12-year old PowerBook running 10.4 and it can read floppy disks just fine. Armed with a USB floppy drive, I inserted the first disk.

It was readable! In fact, of the 20 disks I’ve tried, 16 of them seemed perfectly fine. Most of the disks contained software (mostly vintage shareware, and a few commercial bits that have long since achieved abandonware status.)

I also unearthed some Hypercard stacks I created for school in the early 1990s. I cannot wait to fire up an emulator and explore those.

I spent about 30 minutes creating read-only disk images of them, so I’d have a perfect archive of these for the future.

I’m sad to report that this is one of the disks that was unreadable:

Yes, I used to be a teenage boy.

Floppy disks: more durable than I thought.