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Monday 24 August 2015 - Windows 95 is 20

Happy 20th birthday, Windows 95.

Although my desktop of choice for probably 19 of those 20 years has been based on Linux, I still have some semi fond memories of Windows 95, so maybe time for a nostalgic moment.

We didn't have a CD-ROM drive back then, so it came to us on no fewer than 13 3.5" floppy disks which were all required, one after the other, as the percent completed bar edged painfully towards 100. Suffice it to say that you did not get the free Weezer music video on the floppy disk version.

We duly installed it on our 486 DX/2 50 over the top of the existing Windows 3.1 installation that had come with it, and rapidly found that our 8MB of memory that 3.1 had positively wallowed in was not adequate for this new vision of the future, at least not if you wanted to run more than a couple of things at once.

I did once manage to get it installed on a computer with a 20 megabyte hard disk by using "doublespace" and a second floppy drive, moving files as they were installed onto some spare 5.25" disks to make space and keep the installer going. The installer itself consumed around 7MB of temporary space that was freed afterwards, so then you could move the files back into place and it would boot. Of course, there was not a lot of space left afterwards to do anything with, so it was not a lot of use, but it did work.

It's hard not to feel spoilt now, as I sit in my office with a tiny computer that has 16GB of memory and an internet connection that could deliver the contents of those 13 floppy disks in a couple of seconds. We will see what the next 20 years will bring.


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