Letters from Somnolescent May 31, 2021

Zip Drives!

by mon

It’s time for a pretty short blog post from me, mon! Made from an outline that I’ve had sitting around since almost a YEAR ago.

It’s well-known that I own a good bit of old Apple computers at this point. But along with the large-ish collection that I own, I also own a small collection of peripherals and accessories. I think the most notable out of these would be my two Zip Drives…

The Zip Drive, introduced in 1994, was one of the many competing successors to the at-the-time widely used floppy disk. It competed alongside things like the SuperDisk and the Sony HiFD, but unlike its competitors, it had some level of mainstream recognizability to it – the most notable example (to me at least) being its appearance on Daria!

Insert Daria screenshot here.
I can’t remember what episode this is from, sadly, I took this screenshot like a year ago… But readers, if any of you happen to remember, please do email me. c:

I purchased the first of my two drives in October of 2019, shortly after I received a battered-up Macintosh SE for free. Earlier that month, I bought an 800k floppy disk pre-loaded with System 6, only to find out that the floppy drive in that SE would take floppies, but couldn’t read them. Being that I didn’t want to replace the oddly-installed hard drive* or attempt to repair the floppy drive, I did a bit of research, and found that you could use Zip disks with these old compact Macs, for both file storage and booting! So I went off to eBay and bought a drive and a singular Zip disk.

*(SEs didn’t ship with a hard drive + floppy drive! The hard drive installed in mine was installed redneck style, right behind the CRT’s electron gun. Picture for reference.)

In hindsight, I didn’t do enough research, and I probably should’ve just bought the tools needed to disassemble the SE and discharge the CRT. The reason I have two Zip drives is that the first time around, I bought the wrong type. Iomega had two different versions of the Zip drive for sale at the time – one with a SCSI connector and one with a Parallel port – and I bought the one with the Parallel port. (It’s a bit funny, because the one with a Parallel port is just a SCSI Zip drive with a built-in converter.) I probably would’ve noticed this the first time around if it weren’t for the fact they used the same damn connector!

Enjoy the piggo with the baby carrot on his head on the side.

So I ended up going back to eBay and buying another Zip drive, this one being a little more battered-up but still very functional, and I re-used the power connector that came with the first Zip drive. And it worked just fine! I was able to install System 6 onto the disk using my Sawtooth G4 and boot off of it with no trouble. I haven’t used these drives or these Macs in quite a bit, but along with using it as a boot drive for my SE, I used these for transferring files to and from different computers.

In hindsight, it was still a worthwhile investment, purchasing a Zip drive – their disks are relatively high-capacity considering the machines they’re meant for, work with a wide variety of vintage computers, can be used to boot in a pinch, and can theoretically be accessed by any modern computer with a parallel port and a VM. (I know this sounds contradictory, but some modern business desktops still include parallel ports!)

There. After nearly a year of procrastination, I’ve finished it. Have a wonderful day, and expect more to come from me in the future. c:

About mon

deer thing? has an unhealthy obsession with old macs and chipotle.


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