I got a call from "windows support" today telling me I had a problem
with my machine. Normally I just tell them to perform an unnatural act
with their mother but today I decided I would play along as long as
they would let me. This "english as a second language" guy gave me the
"grave danger pitch and then started telling me to type in a web
address and I said it keeps saying "bad file or command name". He
asked what was on my PC screen and I said "C:>"
They had me reboot a couple times and I made that take a long time,
"wait, I need to set the clock" etc. They got second level involved
and he asked how I get to the internet and I said I just use E-mail.
He asked how I do that and I said AOL.
He kept telling me there must be an internet address bar there and I
said I don't see one and I have never used it.
He asked what version of AOL I was using and I said I don't see a
version, it just says "AOL for DOS".
He asked what kind of machine I had and I said "IBM Personal Computer
I acted confused when they asked me about the OS. I said it was the
one that was on it when I bought the machine in 1985. After a minute
or two of violent keyboard clicking I said "DOS 2.1"
After another guy got on the phone, they finally asked me if I had
windows and I told them "no, that was the tool of satan". They hung
I tied up 2 or 3 guys for 15 minutes.
Maybe they will take me off their list now.
On 05/09/2016 11:55 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I did a lot of experimenting.
Dos 1 floppies can only be read from a machine running Dos 1
and Dos 2 floppies can only be read from a machine running dos 2
Once Dos 3 came out, it could read any version of Dos above it and visa
versa. The commands would not necessarily work but at least there was
some level of compatibility.
Huh? That is not my experience. I was able to read and copy my DOS
1.0 diskettes with other versions. The last time I copied them it was
in the DOS box of W/98. You do need a drive capable of reading 128k
disks tho. All "real" IBM drives will do it. YMMV on a clone.
You do have to be careful tho. You need to do a 'diskcopy" or you will
end up with a disk that is formatted at whatever it was, typically
256k or 1.2m. You can't really make a 128k disk on 1.2m media tho. The
oxide is different and it will not read on a 128k or 256k drive.
On Monday, May 9, 2016 at 1:07:06 PM UTC-4, philo wrote:
We used to punch index holes in the B-side of 5" and 8" floppies to use
them as dual-sided floppies long before dual-sided was an industry standard.
We told the users that we did this for that they should be cautious with
what they stored on the B-side because they were not "certified" by the
manufacturer, but we saw no greater failure rate on the B-side than the
It was never the floppy per se that failed, it was typically the drive that
trashed the floppy. Static was the biggest problem. We had TRS-80 units that
were so bad that the users would touch the plastic case of the keyboard and
the daisy wheel printer would spit out a character.
We hung copper straps from the sprinkler system and attached grounding
bracelets to them. Secretaries would ground themselves to the building
before sitting down to do their word processing.
IBM PS/2 does not honor the media sense hole.
It all depends on what the media descriptor byte says in the boot
That can get you in trouble if you are dealing with newer IBM PCs or
I suppose you could format a 720 disk to 2.88 but it may not be
I did have a bunch of misformatted disks (720 and 1.44) around and
they seemed to work just fine tho.
The one that didn't work was mixing up the 5.25" formats.
On 05/09/2016 03:06 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Since I did this experiment long after the PS/2 was obsolete, it could
simply be that the floppies at that time were better quality than those
that existed at the time the PS/2 would have been in production.
From time to time I thin out my collection of vintage computers but
doubt I will ever part with that PS/2
On Monday, May 9, 2016 at 3:33:05 PM UTC-4, philo wrote:
Speaking of experimenting...
The TRS-80's had a 3-bay 8" floppy expansion unit. It was notorious for
corrupting disks. We'd swap out a drive, test the new one and then put the
case back on. 2 hours/2 days/2 weeks later, we'd get called back for the
We finally figured out that if we left the (I forget which) 3 screws along
the (I forget which) side out, we never got called back.
We began to remove those screws before even delivering the units to new users
and the failure rate plummeted.
We also learned to open up every single keyboard and run a ground wire from
the circuit board ground to the plastic case prior to delivery. Static related
disk drive failures were reduced dramatically.
I think that there was something like 4 modifications that we made to the
machines before delivery just to keep the failure rates down. Those are the
dollars that never show up on the correct budget reports. Instead of having
the units delivered straight to the end-user's office where we could just
open them up and put them on their desk, every unit had to be delivered to
our shop, unpacked, modified, repacked and then taken to the end-user.
Some purchasing agent probably got a bonus for negotiating a sweet deal on
the "sales" side of the books, meanwhile the IT maintenance budget for each
department was getting hammered before they even received a computer. But, hey,
those are "internal dollars" so they don't matter.
Did I mention that this was a *former* Fortune 500 company?
I missed all of that stuff, Until the 80s, I could get mainframe time
just about any time I wanted it. In the 60s and early 70s we had the
whole system for a few hours a week at a half dozen customers. I could
get a partition just about any time I liked. A program I wrote,
allowing concurrent maintenance on anything running DOS (360-370
style) pretty much made taking the system obsolete for the guys who
I got into the home computer biz with the IBM PC and a "first day
ship" PC1. I bought it second hand when an IBM guy I knew upgraded to
the brand new PC/AT.
As you saw, I built my first AT from parts (there is no part number
for a case)
On 05/09/2016 06:00 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
That case looks even more home made than anything I could come up with !
The first computer I built was (I think) in 1979 for an independent
study course when I returned to college. (The company I worked for paid
for add'l education.)
At any rate I at least made a metal case for it :)
On Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 1:58:13 PM UTC-4, philo wrote:
The first job I turned down after college was a position as a trouble shooter
for a company that made some type of device (I forget what it did) that
consisted of two 3' x 3' densely packed wire-wrapped back panels.
Some guy would wire-wrap the panels, some other guy would test the units and
if they didn't work, it would have been my job to find the problem. Imagine
18 sq ft of this - that didn't work...No Thank You!
Yep I am familiar with wire-wrap but have never used it.
For my job, I did a lot of industrial control retro-fits.
Some of them I designed myself and were so hay-wire no one else could
repair the equipment but me. My competitors and co-workers left certain
jobs for me only! Very good job security.
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