Booting DOS from vinyl

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/11/23/booting-dos-from-vinyl.html

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Vinyl is clearly a better medium for data

[citation needed]

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The zeros and ones sound “warmer”.

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But vinyl is warmer! Even for computers, apparently…

Jokes aside, loading programs from cassette tapes just sucked.
I got a C64 for Christmas (way back when) - and got an after-school job after the winter holidays so I could get the dosh together for a floppy drive PDQ.

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The disc drive for my Tandy CoCo 3 was like $300! I got the computer for Christmas one year, and had to wait until the following year to get the disk drive.

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Same here. First computer was a C64c with the extra floppy drive reader. I played endless hours of the TSR gold box series on that thing.

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Yup. And a pack of ten 5.25’’ floppies was so expensive that it made sense financially (for a school kid) to invest in the train fare to get to a “cheap” computer store in the next big city.
At least with the C64 you could save money by buying single-sided disks and make them double-sided with a hole punch.
(Cue the 4 Yorkshiremen sketch, At Last! The 1948 Show version.)

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But can you boot DOS from a wax cylinder? :thinking:

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Distributing software on vinyl was actually a thing, though certainly not widespread. There was a technology called Flexidisc, which were square records that could be included in magazines, primarily for promotional purposes. There were game demos and such available in them in a few magazines. During the time when it was common for computers to have cassette ports, it wasn’t a bad idea. Moving an RCA cable from your hi-if over to your computer to load a record was, in principle, straightforward to do for many people.

This might seem silly, but back then software distribution was hard. 5-1/4” floppy disks early on were expensive to make, reproduce and ship. Way too expensive for something like a promotion. On paper at least, flexidisc seemed like a great idea because the only alternative was typing in program listings (which we all did a lot of as well). There were also a few attempts later to do bar-code distribution, like the Cue Cat.

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I was 24 in 1984 when I got my first floppy drive.

But I was bugged that after spending about $500 Canadian for thedrive, controller and power supply, it didn’t come with a blank floppy.

I seem to recall finding a two pack so I could get going.

But my first ten pack was fifty dollars. I still have the bill somewhere.

I admit at that time I worried about whether cheaper floppies were good, I’m not even sure generic floppies were available at that time.

The good thing was you could fit a lot on a floppy.

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At the time, they were exoloring ways of distributing software with tye magazine. Those flexible recirds fit right in, a cassette added bulk.

Byte did try barcodes, though not in the magazine. They issued some books that were just pages of barcodes (and an introduction).

The Cauzin higher density scheme came later, and I think Byte tried them in the magazine.

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Ah, and just a couple of years later you’d have a second hand AT compatible with a Hercules graphics card and a whopping 20MB HDD.
And a word processor, spreadsheet, database, CAD, some editors/compilers, a couple of utilities, a handful of games… and still 10 MB of free space on that HDD.

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Yes, but why would you use a rewritable medium for that?

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Another attempt to distribute SW was through TV broadcast.
The link goes to WP for Telesoftware, but I remember also other less technological ways (a square flashing in a corner of the screen, to be decoded with some crude optical adapter), though Google is not helping.

PS: the model/brand of my first computer is easy to guess…well, the second TBH, but self-built-6502 did not make for a decent username.

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Computer Chronicles on PBS in the US either had some scheme, or gave a demonstration. I can’t remember if it was an ongoing thing.

There was also talk of sending programs over radio. Jim Warren had some scheme to send programs via subcarriers added to existing FM transmitters. But I can’t remember whether ut was an idea or trial.

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Vinyl records aren’t cut, they’re pressed. The folks who cut records use either polycarbonate sheet, or aluminum discs coated with nitrocellulose lacquer. (The lacquer factory in California burned down last year, so supplies are limited now.)
I wonder how this record was made.

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& @Michael_Black

Been there…

[…] in 1982 the NOS decided to create their own data format, which would then be transmitted over the radio. They would develop for each type of Basic a “bascoder”, which would allow the decoding of the NOS data format and recode it into a platform specific Basic. The so called universal Basic, or Basic Esperanto was born and dubbed BASICODE.

Great care was taken when developing the format that the structure itself was made in such a way that it would minimize data loss (i.e. noise interference) when being transmitted, which allowed the NOS to broadcast on the medium radio band.
The programs, sent out from The Netherlands could hence be picked up in Eastern Europe. Soon, the BBC followed suit and started transmitting BASICODE as well. A year later the German TV Show: “WDR Computerclub” started transmitting the signal over the TV as well and gave BASICODE its popular name “hard-bit-rock”.

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Vinyl. The original “hard disc.”

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Shellac.

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There are a few small presses here and there. I know Third Man Records (owned by Jack White) does a lot of pressings these days, even small batch runs. I also had a project some years ago here in Austin getting natural gas to a record press, would’ve loved to visit it but the owner was kind of rude so i never asked. I’m sure there might be a few more scattered throughout.

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