One of the cool things about working at TechRepublic is not only do you get to play with the latest and greatest hardware and software, but sometimes you also get to play with some of the things from years gone by.  For example, I’m going to be working on a photo gallery for TechRepublic tracing the history of Windows. We’ll go from Windows 1.0 all the way through Windows Vista and see how Windows has changed over the last 23 years. 

Although there’s probably a more efficient way, albeit a lot less fun, that means installing as many different versions of Windows as I can get my hands on. I’m doing so on my production workstation using the just-released Virtual PC 2007.

For the Windows 3.1 shots, I’m installing Windows For Workgroups 3.11. My copy of WFW3.11 comes on 8 3.5″ 1.44Mb floppies. It’s rather nostalgic pumping a stack of floppy disks in and out of the computer, but I’ve noticed a problem.

My trusty Dell has developed an issue whereby it won’t read all of the floppy disks correctly. Occasionally, they would come up with a Disk Read failure. Naturally, I just chalked it up to trying to load software from 14 year old floppy disks.  Then I discovered something interesting…

If I push the floppy disk in with my thumb and then hold it there as firmly as I can, the disks will read. Needless to say, it’s annoying enough having to swap disks in and out of the machine, but then add to it the wait time of holding the disk in place while the drive grinds out the data. I guess that’s a Thumb Drive circa 1993.