The Sixth Stage of Grief is Retro-Computing

Paul Ford (again) with a story that is a veritable and emotional tour de force about the loss of an old friend, a friendship that had been cemented on a mutual interest in computing, weaving together personal memories, home computing history and some remarks about emulation.

It’s interesting the experience of an old OS can be as poignant as a personal memento as an old photograph or a personal artifact; nostalgia knows no medium, after all. Old software, though, is not commonly found in shoeboxes in the attic, nor do the platforms to run it. I believe this proves just how critical and thorny some issues of digital preservation are: for retro-computing, at least, does exist — software can be copied to newer media and circuits can be emulated —, but what about retro social networking? Retro-smartphones? We’re probably going to lose this present: in the age of Big Data there’ll be hardly any artifacts for nostagia.