Another tech memorabilia from the 1990’s hidden away in a box for 25 year to be recovered during the attic exploration, the infamous iomega zip drive 100.
This was certainly a smart innovation in the early 90’s when the predominant (transportable) media was the 3.5″ disk with 1.4MB. Iomega came up with this removable 100MB storage device using a similar form factor like a disk, but offering 70 times more disk space. Take note, at that time the average hard disk space was around 500MB, so 100MB were a decent backup option. The drive was not cheap with a price around U$ 200,- and single disks roughly at U$ 20,-. Various types were offered, supporting IDE, SCSI, USB, Firewire connections. Still the device was not as scuccessful as expected, it had to compete with the (writable) CD-ROM and CD-RW, it faded away in the early 2000’s. Iomega does not exist any longer, the company was acquired by EMC in 2008.
The above device was recognized by Windows 10 and the 20 years old backup files could still be read.
Some other similar devices were introduced during the same decade, all eventually disappeared: Jaz Drive, EZ 135 Drive, Super Disk and a few more. All sharing the same faith and leaving you in trouble if you trusted them for long term archive purpose.
This is a common theme and “retro” problem that we look at here, starting in the last episode with the 3.5″ disk, a few more similar cases I will discuss in upcoming posts. We are now roughly 35 years into main stream office and home computing and we already facing challenges to persist data more than a few years.
Book-printing was invented by Gutenberg in the 15th century, there are still books around from the medival times and we still access the data, aka. read the text. The comparison can be challenged, not feasible to store today’s data volume on paper.
Fun fact: There are some tools and libraries that support creating paper-based backups, though volume-limited, this backup will survive dooms-day and any EMP, as long the paper does not catch fire and is laminated to protect against humidity. Give paperback a try, it even supports key encryption.
Main problems with old storage media and types:
- File Format
The format certain type of data is stored on any medium (no matter if magnetic tape or BlueRay or cloud storage) might not be supported any longer after a few years because the format is e.g. propietary or outdated, like the MS Access 2.0 format from the last post.
- Storage Media Type
Propietary devices from decades ago to read the respective media, are not built any longer, not supported by current OS or just do not function any more.
- Media Preservation
Depending on the media type, magnetic, optical, flash-memory (semi-conductor), the data can survive a more or less long time before it starts to degrade and become corrrupted or unreadable.
Stay tuned for more retro tech explorations..