Tech Flashback: 50 ways to use your ZIP disk

I was rummaging around my room the other day, to find what appeared to be pristine, new in box ZIP 100 disk. Here’s the insert, still unmarked.

insert front

insert rear

You can see the perforated line where users would tear off that segment so the label on the disk would be visible outside the jewel case. Here’s a thought: maybe it’s time to try claiming that lifetime warranty and see what happens? Just kidding. Here’s the disk itself, also clean and unmarked.

zip disk

This one is a more modern disk judging by the floral design label – it seems to be dated 2000 by the heat stamping on the rear. I expected it to be blank, but it wouldn’t hurt to confirm it by putting it into one of my (now numerous) ZIP drives.

What I found was this:

50ways gifOne lone file. 265,728 bytes. Executable. Created on Friday, 30th January 1998 at 3:22:48pm. No text details.

Was it a virus?

As it turned out, no. It wasn’t. This was a demo file placed on iomega branded ZIP disks to advertise and inspire people to buy more ZIP disks. It really didn’t cost them anything – they just put it onto blank disks presumably when factory formatting them, and was moderately successful.

To users, it was a slight inconvenience to have to delete the file or reformat the disk. Interestingly, I haven’t got a Mac formatted ZIP disk, so I don’t know if there’s a Mac formatted version of it available. But some users just left it on the disk, given the small size and innocuous nature of the file. Nowadays, we seem more wary of exe files in the root directory of drives – which likely would be some autorun malware.

The demo still runs today under Windows 7 x64 as it’s a 32-bit executable which appears to have been written in C++ by inspection of the text strings in the exe. It presents a slide-show like promotion which has no audio which is shown in the clip below (which I recorded with a screen recorder).

Nostalgic anyone? And just in case anyone noticed – that’s not how you spell guarantee.

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One Response to Tech Flashback: 50 ways to use your ZIP disk

  1. Pingback: Tech Flashback: How many ways can you use your ZIP disk? | Gough's Tech Zone

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