One of the projects I worked on this morning required that I access some old design files from 1996. And while 15 years may not seem like a lot of time in the grand scheme of things, in "computer years" it's positively ancient. This poses a number of problems.
The first problem is that the files were on an Iomega JAZ disk. This is a hard disk cartridge drive that was discontinued almost a decade ago. Fortunately, I have one of these drives... and it still works.
The second problem is that a JAZ drive uses a SCSI interface to connect to a computer. Apple hasn't had SCSI ports on any of their machines since 1999. Fortunately, I also have an old Power Mac which can handle a SCSI peripheral... and it still works.
The third problem is also the biggest. SCSI sucks ass. It never worked very well, and just getting a drive to mount can be a long and frustrating experience... back in the 1990's. Today it can be almost impossible. The drivers are incredibly old, and so the OS you run it on also has to be old. Needless to say, there's no technical support. Fortunately, after hours of goofing around... I got it to work.
What a wake-up call this has been.
Legacy format obsolescence happens all the time. 8-inch and 5-1/4-inch floppy disks were replaced by 3-1/2-inch floppy disks. Floppy disks were replaced by CDs and ZIP disks. ZIP disks were replaced by DVDs. CDs and DVDs are being replaced by large-volume hard drives.
Now hard drives themselves are being replaced by solid-state drives.
And it would seem that online "cloud" storage is eventually going to be replacing everything.
Guess it's time to get all my data off of CDs and DVDs. Apple has already eliminated these drives from their MacBook Air and Mac mini machines. I'm betting that MacBooks will lose them any day now. Will the desktop computers be next? Since Apple has distributed their latest OS upgrade online and seems intent on selling their software that way too... I'm guessing yes.
How long until we just plug this stuff directly into our brains? Most people don't seem to be using their heads for much anyway... might as well put them to good use.