Fitness and everything else

Old Computer Sounds No Longer Heard

Floppy drives

Beginning with the trusty Commodore 64 we had when I was young, floppy drives were associated with computers for me. That 1541 drive for the c64 was pretty noise with the had banging when it read. You could feel a vibration on the table from it. The 5¼ inch disks were annoying, though. I liked that they were thinner, but also floppy. We had one or two game disks that got bent and damaged thanks to my careless brothers.

The 1541s were large external drives that would make a knocking sound as the head moved. A lot of the games that used fast loading programs made it louder.

In school, the computers had 3½ drives. Those disks were nicer to store and carry. They were also easier for me to insert them since they didn’t bend, and I couldn’t really see the slots on those drives. These were a little quieter to my ears, but still definitely audible.

These drives made more of a buzz or humming sound than the grinding sound that the older 1541s made. It was more like a vibration than anything. The seeking seemed to be a lot quieter.

Finally, in the late 90s, I got a zip disk. Those were much pricier than floppy drives, but held a lot more data. The version I got was 100 MEGS! I had to do something to get more space since my hard drive was nearly full and only 800 megs. The only sound I remember those making was the click when you insert it and a vibration sound when it spun up.

Hard drives

Technically, I still do hear them. I have old spinning hard drives in my PC case still, even though I don’t use them. That’s also what’s in the NAS sitting here. Next time I open my case up I will be retiring the spinning disks, so this will count then.

They made various sounds spinning up over the years depending on the platter and brands and stuff. Quantum ones were slickly and loud. I’ve had others that sounded like a mini jet, of course much quieter, taking off. These sounds ere nice because you’d still hear it spinning whether windows install was still working or not hear it if it was hung up. Every so often, the light would just shine steadily, and the progress bar would do nothing for what seemed like hours.


I in no way miss the speed of a dial-up connection or how unreliable my phone line was. Let’s get that out of the way first.

The sound of a modem dialing up certainly brings up nostalgia to me. When I first got on the internet, I’d have to hope that I could connect late at night when the lines were busy and find and download what I wanted to download, so I could disconnect and read it. They charged by the hour at that time in addition to the phone company charging by the minute.

First I’d hear the dial tone, then I would hear the numbers being dialed. If I got lucky, I’d hear a click, then a squealing sound. There would be various squeals as it negotiated a seed.