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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RE[2]: Scary.
by UltraZelda64 on Thu 13th Jan 2011 17:51 UTC 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

RE[3]: Scary.
by phoenix on Thu 13th Jan 2011 19:56 in reply to "RE[2]: Scary."
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

With XP (maybe 2K or NT 4.0, never tried), you can ditch all but C:\ using NTFS junctions to mount your other disks/partitions/filesystems into the C:\ directory tree. Just like on non-Windows systems.

It's a pain to setup and to manage afterwards. But it's doable. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Scary.
by UltraZelda64 on Thu 13th Jan 2011 20:42 in reply to "RE[3]: Scary."
UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

You're still stuck with C: though, and it sounds like it would be a massive PITA of a hackjob...

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Scary.
by Lennie on Thu 13th Jan 2011 23:10 in reply to "RE[2]: Scary."
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

At some point they became incredibly cheap and moving disks between machines became a lot less reliable.

I don't know if it was the disks or drives.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Scary.
by DOSguy on Thu 13th Jan 2011 23:31 in reply to "RE[2]: Scary."
DOSguy Member since:
2009-07-27

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.


I'm sure that everyone who has used floppy disks in the past, can still clearly remember the sound of a floppy disk drive trying to read a bad disk.
However, apart from the occasional bad disk, my experience with floppy disks isn't as bad as yours.
I still have lots of floppies, most of which are somewhat around 15 years old. Every now and then I pop one of them in a computer and I rarely have problems retrieving my old junk.
Floppies where not as durable and tough as usb sticks nowadays, but as long as you handled them with care and stored them in a good environment, they did their job.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: Scary.
by Moredhas on Fri 14th Jan 2011 20:43 in reply to "RE[3]: Scary."
Moredhas Member since:
2008-04-10

They did get cheap at one point, though. I found packaged software came on pretty high quality ones, which would last for years and years, and until about 2000, blank ones were alright too. After that, blank floppy disks became less reliable than your average weather forecast. I remember making sure to buy the "double density" ones, so I'd get the whopping 1.4 MB of memory, instead of 720 KB... Now I have a 1.5 TB external hard drive, and a 16 GB flash drive. Not to mention buying 4.7 GB DVDs by the hundred. We've come a long way in terms of data storage.

EDIT: It occurs to me, I think you can judge the age of a computer user by their discerning use of "disk" and "disc" ;) I see people today calling CDs and DVDs disks, but that may just be because they can't spell...

Edited 2011-01-14 20:45 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2