Sunday, May 22, 2016

Fun with ancient software

Recently, I was investigating the Free Book Bin at McKay's in Nashville and the CD section of Bargain Hunt and I found some quite nice software. The only problem was that it was kind of ancient. At Bargain Hunt, I had stumbled upon Microsoft Encarta 95, designed for Windows 3.1 because it's actually from 1994 and predates Windows 95. In the McKay's Free Book Bin was the 9-CD set that made up PrintMaster Platinum 7.0 (designed for Windows 95, 98, and NT 4). One CD to install stuff, another to run the program, and 7 clip art CDs. It also installed a really awesome drawing program (better than Microsoft Paint from 2009) which had a lot of really cool gradients and the option of installing AT & T WorldNet and Internet Explorer 4. These programs would not install on my 64-bit Windows 7 PC which showed an error message that basically was the computer equivalent of "That's a 16-bit program, you idiot! What the @#$% are you trying to do anyway?" But luckily, I have a 32-bit Windows 7 laptop that can run 16-bit programs. Let's start with Encarta 95.

Welcome to the no-gradient, Windows 3.1 dialog box, Windows Write README file, .avi multimedia and fairly well-synthesized speech jungle, Windows 7. I couldn't actually play any multimedia content because of the fact that nobody, not even Microsoft, has .avi drivers for Windows 7! Seriously! #ProblemsAnybodyWithSemiModernSoftwareDoesNotHaveToWorryAboutAndProbablyDoesNotCareAbout. I believe that qualifies as the longest hashtag ever. Another one that might work would be #AncientSoftwareProblems. And, do you want to know something weird? There were no error messages. No objection because I didn't have a Program Manager to stick program groups in. The groups were in the Start Menu and it installed without trouble. Admittedly, that might have been because I was staring at it the entire time, making sure it behaved.

Now, we venture into the land of PrintMaster Platinum 7.0. First thing first, it seems like it came from Middle Earth. Seriously.
Three Discs for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Windows system where the setup lies.
One Disc to rule them all, One Disc to find them,
One Disc to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Windows system where the setup lies.
With deep apologies to J.R.R Tolkien.

The program had a male synthesized voice cheerfully guiding me through it. It sounded like one of Cortana's friends, or maybe an undercover Clippy. And it seemed that Cortana or Clippy had been talking about me to it, considering the program seemed to know me very well.
And I actually didn't search for reptile clip art! I just opened the clip art gallery without searching for anything and that turned up. Anyway, it didn't actually install, so I needed the CD to find them, not to be confused with the install CD to rule them all, to run it. It's actually a really awesome program, which can save stuff as its weird format as well as images, including .pcx files for Windows 3.1 Paintbrush. The drawing program that came with it can do 3D, gradients, and pretty much everything Microsoft Paint can't. And it, like Encarta, had no error messages! Which is weird. All the programs you never thought could run running without issues. I'm hoping that soon I'll find Microsoft Bob, because I've heard he/it has some reptilian assistants. Plus, he/it is adorable. 

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