Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Thu 13th Jan 2011 12:53 UTC, submitted by sawboss
Hardware, Embedded Systems "The question that forms the title of this article has recently been posted on the Super User Q&A site for computer enthusiasts. At first I was shocked at how silly a question it was as everyone should know that, right? But then I started to think about it and realized anyone under a certain age probably has no clue."
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Scary.
by spudley99 on Thu 13th Jan 2011 13:39 UTC
spudley99
Member since:
2009-03-25

What's most scary of all is that it scored 112 up-votes from other users (of a tech-oriented site) who thought it was a good question.

Reply Score: 6

RE: Scary.
by atsureki on Thu 13th Jan 2011 15:30 in reply to "Scary."
atsureki Member since:
2006-03-12

I think it is a good question, because the answer is much more complicated than just "those are the floppy disks." What floppy disks? Those things are long gone, so what and where are A: and B: now?

Since drive letters contain no inherently meaningful information, in the days before drive icons their assignment order had to be pseudoinformative. You could more or less trust that A: and B: were set aside for the floppy disk controller, and C: was the first hard disk partition. Fast forward a few more years, and well into the Windows 98 era, lots of installer scripts and programs were hard-coded to look for driver data on A:, system data on C:, and program data on D:. You were in for a world of hurt if you tried to lay out your system any other way. It was all a big feedback loop of de facto convention begetting presumptive programs reinforcing de facto convention, and modern Windows still follows it to maintain compatibility with inadequate code.

So the real answer is that discord between progress and convention have effectively retired those drive letters. You can be familiar with the progress (there used to be floppy drives; now there aren't) and still wonder about the convention (why don't any computers have a drive A?).

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Scary.
by Laurence on Thu 13th Jan 2011 16:26 in reply to "RE: Scary."
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

I think it is a good question, because the answer is much more complicated than just "those are the floppy disks." What floppy disks? Those things are long gone, so what and where are A: and B: now?

On my set up, it's USB sticks.

Effectively the "floppy disks" of the 21st generation

Edited 2011-01-13 16:28 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Scary.
by UltraZelda64 on Thu 13th Jan 2011 17:51 in reply to "RE: Scary."
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Since drive letters contain no inherently meaningful information, in the days before drive icons their assignment order had to be pseudoinformative.

Well, before Windows and hard drives, the meaning was simple.

A: = Boot disk. System. Do not tamper with.
B: = Data disk. Do all your work here. Switch disks as necessary.

Seems pretty logical to me...

When Windows and hard drives became common, not much changed, except that C: became the "system" drive. Many machines had one floppy drive and a giant single-partition hard drive (C: or the system partition), which left B: as a synonym for A: to allow copying disks and files between disks, unless a second floppy drive was installed (which would then be B: and make copying and moving possible without switching disks).

Floppies suck... I'm glad to see them being eradicated from the face of the planet. Worthless, unreliable pieces of shit. Maybe they originally weren't, I don't know... all I know for a fact is that when I was using them (mostly for school) in the 90s, all they ever did was magically wipe themselves.

But... now what were drive letters again? Oh yeah, I almost forgot... I haven't dealt with a drive letter since ~2006 when I moved away from Windows. Drive letters are so DOS. It would have been nice if with NT they ditched the drive numbers, after all they finally broke all ties with the DOS legacy, but they chose 100% compatibility with DOS instead. Oh well.

Reply Parent Score: 2