Whatever happened to …

… shareware CD-ROMs?

Thanks to Peter Beens who reached out with this suggestion.

He could have stopped at “shareware”. He also could have stopped at “CDROMs”. But, he included both so that it narrows the field.

The last time I saw a shareware CD-ROM, I think, would have been at the Kmart on Huron Church Road in Windsor. That, in itself, dates things since that Kmart has been gone for a long time. Even using the dateline feature of Google Streetview doesn’t go back far enough in time to catch an image as a memory.

Photo by Mati Mango on Pexels.com

So, the whole concept goes so far back and is so foreign to what we’re used to today. If we want something now, we just go and download it. In the times that Peter is taking us to, the internet as we know it didn’t exist for most people. If anything, we had an extra phone line in the house and a modem and would dial into a service. If we found something we liked, we’d download it, seemingly taking forever! What was appealing about the offering that Peter is suggesting is that you didn’t have to worry about one program; you could get hundreds of them on your computer just by sticking the CD into your computer. Now, I’ll admit that my earliest computer didn’t come with this feature and I eventually bought an external one that connected via the parallel printer port and required its own power source.

Shareware was a terrific concept. You’d install the program and then run it. If you found it of use, then you were asked to send the author a usually small amount of money to show your appreciation. It’s unlike today where there might be a free program with limited features and you have to pay money to unlock all the features or download a completely different version of the program. Maybe we were more generous back then?

You can see from the link in Peter’s post that this wasn’t just a single unique concept; there were many options available. Would it fly today? Probably not since most new computers don’t come with CD-ROM or DVD-ROM players. Our media today comes mostly via the internet. If nothing else, it opens up desk space instead of having containers full of CD-ROM and DVD-ROMs.

For a Sunday, share your experience with Peter and me.

  • did you ever own a computer without a CD or DVD drive?
  • did you have an extra phone line and modem to get connected? How fast was your modem?
  • have you ever purchased a CD-ROM full of software like the ones that Peter suggests?
  • one of the dangers of accessing software from others is the chance of viruses or malware – are you good about checking everything you download?
  • what have you done with your own collection of CDs or DVDs? I’ve seen them make great sun catchers in the classroom

Please take the time to share your thoughts. It would be great to read them.

This is part of a regular Sunday routine around here. If you have an idea, please reach out with it like Peter did. I find it fun to reflect back, inspired by others.

All of the previous posts are available here.

4 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …

  1. Your questions made me think. I remember creating sun catchers outside with our students a number of years ago. We hung them from trees in the kindergarten playground space. Old CDs also became fish and garbage in our class’s collaborative Plastic Planet at our last school. Students used it to teach their parents and other children about plastic in the ocean. Now I’m curious how others use old CDs. I still have quite the collection. 🙂

    Thanks for another weekly trip down memory lane!

    Liked by 1 person

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