Sometimes, stuff just sneaks up on you. You see the previous examples, know the trends, and yet still you get caught out in the rain. That’s how it is for me and being able to read 5 1/4″ floppy disks on a PC. I can’t. I can read them on an Apple II and I can read them for a Commodore 64 or Amiga, but I’m totally out of luck, currently, with taking these disks from a PC and ending up on my main workbench machine.
I should have seen this coming, of course; this is what happened to cassette tapes, to many types of data cartridges, and all manner of magnetic media. The Thing That Reads It goes away, and all you’re left with is a stack of Stuff That Needs Reading.
The way it’s supposed to be is that people send you stuff to get read, and you read it for them and send the data and the material back. It’s a good life, it feels like you’ve accomplished something. But somehow 5.25 fell between the cracks. I was absolutely positive someone, somewhere, would have a for-sale 5.25 floppy disk reader that was USB connected. Hook it up, throw in the disks, and go to town. They definitely have them for sale for 3.5″ floppies; do a web search and you can find them for sale (I’ll be buying a few myself). But 5.25 never got that second wind.
I guess the USB craze just barely missed those floppies; considering the absolutely-insane spectrum of USB devices out there (fans, coffee warmers, Christmas trees, serial ports, humping dogs), I was positive I’d be 5 clicks away from porting my sent-in floppy collection to relative permanence. Shows what I know.
There’s been the occasional burble, the ever-so-swift discussion of someone hacking something on a breadboard, but I’d really hoped I’d have something basic and commercial for sale, even for a small-run electronics group. Nothing yet. Plan B is just to find a machine that can bridge the gap between running a 5.25″ floppy drive and run a linux/freebsd variant. I don’t like Plan B, but it’s there.
Meanwhile, the stack grows bigger. Never again!
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