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April 11, 2002

The Computer History Simulation

The Computer History Simulation Project [Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters]  "The Computer History Simulation Project is a loose Internet-based collective of people interested in restoring historically significant computer hardware and software systems by simulation."

This is an interesting idea.  Of course, even if you've got a simulator, you need to get the programs themselves that ran on these machines, and that means dealing with all kinds of now-ancient media.

When I was going to college back at UC Irvine '78-'82, we used a system called the Terak that used USCD Pascal as the OS.  It's barely possible that I still have programs for the Terak down in the basement someplace - but I haven't seen an 8" floppy disk drive in years, so I don't know how I'd ever get them back again.

About the only thing I've been able to keep moving forward is email.  When I left Xerox in 1989, I took copies of some of my mail files.  I have no idea what form I took them in then, but ever since then, they've ended up as files in various /home directories on various UNIX and Linux systems, and I've been able to move them from one system to another over the Net.   By now I must have those same files on multiple ZIP disks and now CDs. It's like storing things on a boomarang - throw it out into the net for long enough (but not too long) and then repackage it when it comes back around again.