Andrew's Inner Sanctum

My thoughts about what's happening in my world

Software Early 1990s Style

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by Andrew

A few years ago when I was in Scouts we searched through the Venturers room at our Scout den one night, I came across some packages that I really wanted to keep, because I knew the significance of them. In the room among computer equipment that had been long long forgotten, 2 boxes took my fancy. One of them was the original software box with manuals and disks for Windows 3.1 and the other was the original software carton with manuals and disks for Office 4.3. So I was allowed to take them home (the would have been dumped otherwise) and they’re now going to be safely archived for a long time. The products were released in 1992 and 1994 respectively and this is what each looks like.

Windows 3.1 Desktop

Windows 3.1 Desktop

Microsoft Office 4.3

Microsoft Office 4.3 (Microsoft Word 6.0)

Anyway, so I have kept these boxes and now I’m going to show you exactly how software was packaged in 1994. Firstly, they came in cardboard boxes, with thick detailed manuals and most software came on Floppy Disks. This is the packaging for Windows 3.1 – Circa 1992.

Windows 3.1 Product Box

Windows 3.1 Product Box

Windows 3.1 Product Manual & Installation Disks

Windows 3.1 Product Manual & Installation Disks

So this was what Windows 3.1 looked like. It came in a cardboard box and arrived in 7 floppy disks. Disk 1-6 included the system files, while Disk 7 had additional printer drivers on it.

Microsoft Office 4.3 (which included Word 6.0, Excel 5.0, PowerPoint 4.0 and Access 2.0) came in a very heavy carton. Here are some of the pictures of that.

Microsoft Office 4.3 Carton

Microsoft Office 4.3 Carton

Microsoft Office 4.3 User Manuals

Microsoft Office 4.3 User Manuals

Microsoft Office 4.3 User Manuals

Microsoft Office 4.3 User Manuals

Microsoft Office 4.3 User Manuals

Microsoft Office 4.3 User Manuals

Microsoft Office 4.3 Installations Disks

Microsoft Office 4.3 Installations Disks

This piece of software 10 user manuals and was delivered on 24 Floppy Disks, 23 being program installation disks and disk 24 including the free to distribute PowerPoint Viewer. Unfortunately for me, Disk 7 of this package no longer works, but thanks to the wonders of the internet and a website called VetusWare, I was able to download another copy of the software so I now have a disk 7 replacement 😀

So that’s how programs were distributed in the early 1990s. I think Windows 95 was the first version of Windows offered on a CD and Windows 2000 Professional was the last version of Windows offered on Floppy Disks. Windows 3.1 is actually a fairly decent operating system if you only want very basic word processing needs on an old computer (although the 8.3 File name limit is a pain, it’s the one thing that makes 95 extremely appealing). Imagine today having to load 23 floppies into your computer if you wanted to install Microsoft Office instead of just sticking the DVD in, and 20 minutes later it’s done.

I hope to keep this stuff for a long time, I think it’s important to see where computers have come from!!

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  • Kirbylover4000

    Nice to see you found Win 3.1 and Office 4. I used to have laptop with 3.1 and Office 2, but for some reason one day it wouldn’t start.

    Actually, Windows XP was the last OS to be offered with floppies.
    But since 95 OSR2, which was the first Windows to be on CD, the floppy was just used for older computers that couldn’t boot from CDs.
    I think Vista and 7 don’t have floppies because they are expected to be used on newer computers.

  • Rain

    Holy, your holding unopened microsoft stuff, probebly worth 10.000-100.000 $ on e-bay maybe even more to the right collector 😛

    • Well, it’s all been opened, so that will probably reduce the value.

  • I think Windows 95 was the first version of Windows offered on a CD and Windows 2000 Professional was the last version of Windows offered on Floppy Disks. Windows 3.1 is actually a fairly decent operating system if you only want very basic word processing needs on an old computer