SURVEY SAYS: Computer Data Storage Evolution

This year’s Beloit College Mindset List pointed out that entering college freshmen likely have never used a floppy-disk for storing computer data.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Which method did you use in college to store computer data?” And, for additional fun, I asked them to share which song/artist was most popular when they were a freshman in college.


Among the answer choices listed, 36.5% of responding readers indicated there were no computers when they were in college. The 3.5-inch “floppy disk” was selected by 14.1% of respondents, while 8-inch floppy disk and 5 1/4-inch floppy disk were each selected by 7.1% of respondents. Only 1.2% selected CD-ROM.


Nearly half (45.9%) of responding readers selected “other,” and punch cards were most often cited as the method for storing computer data. One reader said: “Rubber bands were very important, because if you dropped your stack of cards and they got out of order, you’d have to start all over again.” Also included in “other” responses were magnetic tape and computer main frame. Some said there were no methods for data storage and other said either there were no computers or only those majoring in IT used computers.


As for songs/artists most popular when readers were college freshman, responses included:

  • George Michael and Rick Astley!
  • Fleetwood Mac
  • Hey Jude, by The Beatles
  • Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
  • Zombie by The Cranberries
  • Brown Sugar – Rolling Stones
  • George Michael
  • Destney’s Child
  • Police
  • can’t help falling in love / UB40
  • 10,000 Maniacs
  • Billy Joel
  • The Cars
  • Jack & Diane – John Cougar
  • Philadelphia Freedom / Elton John
  • Donna Summer
  • Biggie Smalls
  • Artist: BeeGee’s; Song: Dancing
  • Peter Framption and everybody was doing the hustle!
  • 1972 was a great year for music! Can’t pick just one!
  • Tainted Love / Soft Cell
  • Light My Fire / The Doors
  • Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
  • Two spring to mind, “I Shot the Sheriff” by Eric Clapton and “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner Overdrive
  • Milli Vanilli – LOLOL
  • Destiny’s Child – “Jumpin’ Jumpin” was very popular at parties! I also listened to my Third Eye Blind CD constantly. Hearing them now immediately sends me back to freshman year.
  • Michael Jackson
  • Prince – “Purple Rain” soundtrack
  • My Sharona
  • the beatles
  • Anything by the BeeGees
  • Maggie Mae / Rod Stewart
  • Come Monday – Jimmy Buffett
  • I lived through the Disco era…
  • Way on the other side of the Hudson, deep in the bosom of suburbia, I met a young girl she sang mighty fine: tears on my pillow and Ave Maria.” ARIEL
  • Prince — 1999 and Purple Rain!!!
  • The Four Seasons, Kingston Trio
  • Styx, REO Speedwagon, Phil Collins
  • Heartache Tonight Eagles
  • Good thing no one knows me but Blondie was huge in my sorority.
  • Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Doors
  • Upside Down by Diana Ross
  • Elvis Presley
  • Various disco artists/songs
  • Bee Gees & Commodores
  • Love will keep us together (Captain and Tennille) 1975
  • Elton John
  • INXS
  • Police, REO Speedwagon, Loverboy, Styx, Pat Benatar, Eagles, RUSH
  • Disco – Stayin’ Alive
  • My guess is Peter, Paul, & Mary
  • Madonna
  • “Best of My Love” by the Emotions was a top hit when I started college (1977).
  • Springstein
  • Bryan Adams – Everything I do, I do it for you
  • Genesis
  • In my dorm, Marvin Gaye Let’s Get It On
  • Christopher Cross – Sailing Away
  • Bruce Springsteen Born to Run
  • Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet
  • Elton John, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull – depends on who you were. Cause everybody was Kung-Fu Fighting…
  • Oye Como Va, by Santana


Many readers reminisced about their college days in verbatim comments, and helped me to reminisce too! I remember my Mom pushing me to “get into computers,” but as one reader said, I took one programming class and was discouraged from that major. Many of the readers cited using typewriters, and using white out or correction tape to correct errors, and I remember that as well. Several called their college years a simpler time. Editor’s Choice was difficult, but this week it goes to the reader who said: “In a 1977 freshman convocation, I recall being told that within 10 years, 2/3 of all jobs would be in future categories that did not yet exist. I believe that probably did happen, and likely will again. Learn to think critically, to show respect, and to communicate well, and you might adapt and overcome.”


Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey!



I didn’t even use a computer in law school!

Was cheaper back then, but the same challenges we faced are there today.

I remember having to memorize my mom’s phone card number (so. many. digits.) so that I could make long distance calls home. 11 years later, my little sister had a cell phone when she went to college.

Writing notes, notes, notes. Now all the kids have tablets or laptops they take notes on.

Glad I can still remember them!

We had to purchase a computer lab “Startup” box, which contained a 3.5 startup disk for the Apple IIe computers, and another blank 3.5 disk to save our work. The servers crashed all the time and I learned to save early and save often!

Just went to my 40 reunion, and we were all 19 again….almost!

Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time rewritten every line? If we had the chance to do it all again Tell me, would we? Could we?

I went back for more education in 2005 and it was actually very much the same as 1975 in more ways than not!

Will never forget typing papers (yes on a typewriter) at 4 am, finishing and then upon rereading forgot a line or a word and needing to retype the page again… ugh. Glad that is a thing of the past!

Heard that song at virtually every party/social gathering my freshman year

Although technology has changed dramatically since my college days, the years have passed very quickly. Glad I started saving “for a rainy day” as early as I did because we don’t have a pension like our parents did.

What computers? I went to college with a portable typewriter!

Can’t believe how quickly the years have passed since starting college 1974. Hindsight is 20/20 after a 40 year career. Wish I would have taken more tech classes and second major in Spanish.

I had a computer class in college. I remember it involved punch cards. I’m now feeling prehistoric after completing this survey.

First calculator did +-X\ cost $75 and needed to be plugged in to run for more than 1/2 hour.

Cell phones weren’t popular until my senior year. I really only got one because I was used to having one in the UK when I studied abroad. I am also VERY grateful that Facebook wasn’t open to the public until after I graduated. Life was simpler back then!

We didn’t need no stinkin’ computers. We had IBM Selectrics!

A college education has become more of a way to a higher salary than to get an education.

When I was in college, the legal drinking age was 18 and disco was king until the wonderful music of the 80’s arrived. In those years, we all still knew how to relax!

You left off another computer storage method: magnetic tapes.

In my day, the exciting new technology was white-out to use when you made a mistake typing. My son was blown away when we found an old pack of carbon paper……

Those who live on campus now live a much more charmed life than we did…..

In a 1977 freshman convocation, I recall being told that within 10 years, 2/3 of all jobs would be in future categories that did not yet exist. I believe that probably did happen, and likely will again. Learn to think critically, to show respect, and to communicate well, and you might adapt and overcome.

I remember typing on an electric typewriter my then-boyfriend’s (now husband) history papers and using the correction tape when he decided to change something after I already typed it. Those were the good ‘ole days.

There’s not enough room!

Some things never change in that I still prefer to listen to the Eagles, Van Halen, The Police, Pink Floyd, ELO, the Stones but yet everything changes in that I have a Samsung Notepad, and an amazing data phone and a great lap top. And let’s not forget the cloud.

I can now connect via any number of apps or email on my cell phone, tablet or laptop wherein connecting in college meant a land-line phone call to set up a time and place to meet.

One of my 2 unit courses was business solutions – how to use a 10 key calculator! I’m still pretty fast on that machine!

What was the point of learning computer programming when who knew what computers were going to do???

It seems like there was less school pressure and more personal responsibility – parents kissed you good-bye and said I will see you at the holidays – no cell phones etc so a long distance phone call better mean something. You were forced to fend for yourself which was a good thing. We also wrote letters which I think for many of my era (did I really just say “era”) is something we unconsciously use to this day in business, stronger written communication.

I still remember seeing some graduate students using stacks of punch cards to program and thinking how old fashioned – use the mainframe already. Little did I know just a few years later everyone would have their own computer in their room.

I received one of those new-fangled electric typewriters for my high school graduation that I used all through college. I not only typed my papers, but also my boyfriend’s (now husband) paper’s as well. When my husband went back for his master’s, it was 5 1/4-inch floppy disks. We had to get laptops and flash drives for our kids when they went to college.

Classes were in a classroom then – with human interaction, not online.

It was a lot more affordable.

Dorms offered home cooked meals, and only during a time window. NO one had air conditioning, and summer school was very hot in the dorms! People bought Albums and sat in their rooms to listen. Phones were shared between adjoining rooms.

Yes, it was 40 years ago. Facebook was still a book, no editing on the fly, just typewriters and white-out. And Star Wars was really, really, cool. The good old days…

For the computer class I took, we had a long box of punch cards to do the programming!

Too many changes to list. I typed my papers on a manual typewriter! There were no “personal” computers. The university had computers and data was stored on tape drives. College was a place where competing ideas were exchanged and debated; not banned or shouted down.

I went to the University of Delaware. As a commuting in-state student, my ANNUAL tuition was $357. Living at home, I could work in the summer and pay my way through a state university. What a great deal!

I wish I was back there. We saw the football games – not only the tailgate parties. Everyone was allowed to express their views on any topic. What a mess we’ve made of this country in the past 50 years.

It was a much simpler time, to be sure. Lots of hard work, but also good times.

I made it all the way to college without a cell phone so why does my 12 year old think he needs one now! 🙂

Seems like only yesterday

Typing out the final version of my thesis a week before it was due, then having it destroyed in the party to celebrate it was done. It would have been so nice to have had a copy “saved” on floppy or hard drive.

We used IBM Punch Cards, and the computing facility was as big as a football field. Need I say more??

College was the best four years of my life and a time when you transition from being a child to a young adult.

Had a Backgammon tournament with my dorm neighbor, winner blasted their artist’s music all day. I won, so it was the Boss over the Stones. I set the 10″ LP to play over and over and left for the day.

Writing term papers on a word processor or with a typewriter with correction tape

I’m so darned old, I remember having to sign up for access to a computer on campus so that I could input my code and hope that my program (a) would compile without a bug, (b) would actually run through to the end, and (c) would actually work. All while my time was running out on having access to the computer.

Well, ROTC is back on campus now …



NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Strategic Insight or its affiliates.