Remember those oversized floppy disks from the 1970s and 1980s? I do (barely), but they still looked strange and almost comical when I came upon a trove of them in the WAM files. It’s been decades since I’ve seen one, or a machine that could read one, so I wondered if there is a way to retrieve the information they hold.
I asked Erik Moore, Assistant University Archivist, about this issue, He says, “Simply put, the 8 inch floppy is lost… They were not easily played back on other 8 inch floppy machines because the drives that created them were so unique.” It turns out Erik has come upon this problem before, and has written a blog post for the Academic Health Center History Project on this very topic. On the problem of obsolete media and archiving, he says, “Changes in storage media will always challenge our preservation techniques and cause a few gaps in recorded history. This is to be expected and for the most part accepted as progress to better record keeping.”
I’m sure we can come up with another use for these floppies. As a frisbee, perhaps?
Areca Roe is a MFA graduate from the University of Minnesota’s Department of Art, with a concentration in photography and minor in Museum Studies. Areca completed her project involvement in Fall 2011, and has subsequently been involved with the University as an artist in residence at the University’s Bell Museum of Natural History.