Thursday, April 30, 2009

Floppy Disks

Once upon a time, before the dawn of our alleged full-fledged digital age, computers were simpler creatures. Sure, they required roughly 247 times the maintenance of current computers, but they had character. They also had disk drives.

Looking closely at my up-to-date if admittedly bulky desktop model, it suddenly occurs to me that disk drives have virtually (yes, that's a computer pun) disappeared from today's computers. While I was once able to hear that satisfying click--POP! noise of floppy disk insertion, it appears that my once-beloved disk drive is no more. The portal that once gave me green-and-black-screen delights like Oregon Trail has gone tragically extinct. The Disk became Disc and eventually Drive, and our children will never know that computer devices once included ridiculously non-technological preceding adjectives like "floppy."

While their value as data storage devices may now be obsolete, back in our elementary school classrooms, they were all the rage. Just think, in a pre-internet age, you could write a book report on your computer at home and print it off at your computer at school. To those of us who now spend at least 8 hours a day parked in front of a computer screen with remarkably expedient internet capabilities, this is generally un-fazing, but as children growing up amongst quick-developing technology we still had our sense of wonder.

Unfortunately with this sense of wonder came a sense of impropriety. We as children may not have had as much technology at our fingertips as today's youngsters, but we certainly shared with them to some degree a sense of childlike greed and entitlement. For any of you who think pirated software, games, music, and movies is a new phenomenon, you must a pretty poor memory. Maybe this little number will do something to refresh it:

(Don't Copy That Floppy)

I recognize some of you (myself included) were fairly young when this PSA came out, so if you're not familiar with the above video from your 1990s childhood here's a little background information. In 1992, the Software Publishers' Association was pretty fed up with freeloading kids like Corey and Jenny here denying them their royalties on their precious floppy disk computer game releases. If these kids (read: all of us) thought they could get away with a crime-of-the-century like this, they were wrong. Or, at least the SPA tried to convince us that they were wrong. In reality, it was about as simple and certainly as tempting to pirate software then as it is now, but advertisers thought they could use guilt-inducing tactics to nip this in the bud early on.

The brilliance of the campaign was not in it's effectiveness, because it was not particularly effective at deterring floppy disk pirating. It did, however, feature the following absolutely brilliant educational PSA-style rap. Allow me to guide you through some of its finer points:

"Don't Copy That Floppy"
Performed by MC Hart
Lyrics by MC Hart and Ilene Rosenthal

Right off the bat, you know this is some hardcore gangsta rap. With a co-writer with a name like Ilene Rosenthal, how could it not be? It just screams bad-ass.

Did I hear you right, did I hear you sayin'
That you're gonna make a copy of a game without payin'?
Come on, guys, I thought you knew better don't copy that floppy!
[Don't don't don't don't...]

Come on, guys! There's your next clue this is a legitimate rap; the childlike whininess. That background "don't don't don't don't" doesn't hurt, either.

(Wait a minute. Who are you, anyway?
Yeah. And what are you doing on my computer?)

Seriously, slow down here. Corey, you've got a point, here. Your acting skills, by the way, are impeccable. You must see this kind of thing all the time, because you don't look particularly surprised.

I'm your MC Double Def DP
That's the Disk Protector for you and the posse

Ah, well that clears thing up nicely. Thank you for that, MC Double Def DP. Mind if I call you DP?

That's your artists, writers, designers and pro-grammers
They pump up the images for games and grammas that lets you learn, but also play
The games you came here for today
Now I know you love the game and that's alright to do
Because the posse who make them, they love them too
But if you start stealing, there's no more they can do

The grammas, huh? Let's try to leave my grandmother out of this, okay, DP?
And you're right, I do love the game. I never really thought of their posse in such a vulnerable way. Go on, DP.

(But I just wanted to make one copy!)

I just wanted to steal one car!

You say 'I'll just make a copy, for me and a friend'
Then he'll make one and she'll make one and where will it end?
One leads to another then ten, then more,
And no one buys anything from the store
So no one gets paid and they can't make more
The posse breaks up and they close the door
Don't copy! Don't copy that floppy!

The posse is going to break up? Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down, DP. That does seem to be a rather disturbing chain of events.

So let me break this down for you

Ah, well, thank you for that. That don't does seem to be fairly broken-down. Good work.

No Carmen Sandiego, no more Oregon Trail
Tetris and the others, they're all gonna fail
Not because we want it but because you're just takin' it
Dis-res-pec-tin' all the folks who are ma-kin' it
The more you take, the less there will be
The disks become fewer, the games fall away
The screen starts to tweak, and then it will fade
Programs fall through a black hole in space
The computer world becomes bleak and stark
Loses its life and the screen goes dark

Wow, I never really considered that whole black hole/space scenario, but it makes perfect sense. If I copy this game, everything will immediately be sucked into a swirling vortex of doom.

[Welcome to the end of the computer age... mwahahahaha..]

Uh-oh, evil laughter. That seems like an ominous cue of some sort, I just can't figure out for what...

But I'm much too strong and you're much too smart
To let that happen to your chances to explore
Parts of the new age just behind the door of your minds
You're the posse of the future and you hold in your brains what's never thought before
And in time, you'll see just so much more
That's why I'm here and that's what I'm fighting for
Don't copy! Don't copy that floppy!

Jenny and Corey are the posse of the future? You're right, DP, things are certainly looking grim.

Now let me introduce you, to some of the teams
That will explain a little more about what I mean!

Ah, the boring spoken-words snippets I was hoping for. Wait, this guy was working on a Dungeons and Dragons game? And I ruined his chances for success? This is worse than I thought. I can't believe people would try to create a computer game for something like that.

[D-D-Do-Do-Don't...Don't copy that floppy!]

You see, on these disks we have frozen in time
The creativity of someone's mind
Do you think, that because, with a flick of a key
You can copy that game, that the work is free
This creativity, we protect it by law
We value so highly, what the mind's eye saw
Don't copy! Don't copy that floppy!

[D-D-Do-Do-Don't...Don't copy.. Don't copy that floppy!]

You have to admit, nice chorus framing on this one.

To do the right thing, it's really simple for you
The copyright law, it will tell you what to do
Buy one, for every computer you use
Anything else is like going to the store
Taking the disk, and walking out the door
It's called thiefin', stealin', taking what's not yours
Is that really where you want your life to go?
Think about it, I don't think so.
Don't copy! Don't copy that floppy!

Thefin'? Stealing? Taking what's not mine? I prefer theifin', I think. It suits me.

Now you see a game you like and you really want to try it
Don't copy that floppy, just go to the store and buy it
Think of it this way, okay?


When you're buy a disk, you're sayin' to the team
You respect what you do and what you're workin' for
We'll keep up our support so you can make up some more
We'll do the right thing and the future will be clear
There will be new programs here at the end
Don't copy! Don't copy that floppy!

Okay, sounds fair, DP. I was planning on saying that to the team, anyway.

Now you know how the games and the programs are made
And what you do to make sure that they're not gonna fade
The bottom line is it's all up to you
There's nothing more that I can do
The goals in your court, dribble, shoot, or pass
I'm sure you'll make your decision with class
[Don't copy that floppy]

Dribble, shoot, or pass? I'm a computer kid, man. Use words I understand!

See ya, I'm outta here.

Check it out--modern novelty floppies:
Floppy-Disk Coasters
Floppy-Disk Notebooks
Floppy-Disk Pouch
Floppy-Disk T-Shirt
How to Make Floppy-Disk Earrings


Nic said...

HAHAHA! Disk drives...floppy quaint!!

Mike said...

Nice. Totally forgot about floppy disks. I had a floppy disk that had a game of an old Nickelodeon show, the name is fleeting me, but I would play this game as much as I could when the computer was free. Some kind of game like Double Dare.

The Novelista Barista said...

HA!!!! God am i so glad those things are gone!!!!!! Remember how LONG it took to open something if it was a really big file!?! or u couldnt save it bc it was too big for the disk! AH!
lol thanks :)

Mr. Condescending said...

Haha, the oregon trail! That was so addicting. Also I used to play "lemmings" a lot does anyone remember that game?

butterflycharlie said...

wow, they were useless weren't they? They were so slow! We didn't have a PSA and I'm a little bit jealous...they should bring these back!

Little Ms Blogger said...

OMG that was hysterical.

I also love the Brian Austin Green hair from 90210. I had forgotten how cheesy that was.

Al said...

i had fluro glitter floppy discs, i was so sad when cds came in and i couldnt use them anymore!!!

teasinglydiverse said...

haha...I wasn't looking when the PSA started and I thought the girl was talking...but it was definitely the boy.

I found a floppy disk in my desk the other day and I just stared at it - it had to be way over 10 years old! What in the world was on it? Then I promptly realized my laptop does NOT have a floppy disk the mystery remains...

me melodia said...

fun blog.

marathoner81 said...

Wow..I actually thought that I WAS following you until I saw Fidgiting Gidgit's post...geez!!!

nikki said...

My husband won't allow me to throw away the floppies that contain his Master's Thesis and all of his Thesis research. I pointed out that he also has a hard copy of everything and we have NO WAY of reading anything on a floppy. But he remains firm on this....sigh.

Awesome rap. Gotta love all the Ilene Rosenthal's of the world trying to make cool illegal shit seem even cooler by putting it to a lame rap.

Vicky - said...

Oh how things have changed in our life time! I often thing about floppy discs vs like th 1gig micro sd cards the size of a finger nail.

We've seen VHS videos rise and fall, the replacement for the dvd is on the horizen, mobile phones do everything...

And how much more are things going to advance???

Laina said...

Americas are so lucky, you got Don't Copy That Floppy, us Canadians got Don't You Put It In Your Mouth.

That sentence suddenly seems wrong in so many ways...

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