ROM Cartridges. Lifespan, and other tidbits

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Tue Apr 19 10:38:06 CDT 2016

On Tue, 19 Apr 2016, Paul Koning wrote:
> You mean a ROM cartridge as opposed to a magnetic tape cartridge, right? 
> ("Cart" is also broadcast radio slang for magnetic tape cartridges,
> vaguely like an 8-track tape in appearance.)

ROM carts, yes.  I know what you mean about the old radio "carts" too.  I've
seen them, but that's about it.

> That would depend on the ROM type: mask, PROM, EEPROM.  I don't know which
> was used.  Fuse PROM supposedly may suffer from "fuse regrowth" depending

Huh.  Weird.  I'll have to see how long that takes.  My guess is that they
will outlast anyone who cares enough to collect them, but maybe not.

> > Why does blowing on them help? (moisture? cleaning action?)
> Placebo effect?  :-)  I can't see how it makes any difference, unless the
> contacts are dirty.  If they are, they should be cleaned, with a proper
> cleaning method.

No disrespect, but it sounds like you've never owned an older 8-bit NES with
some well worn cartridges.  There is no doubt in my mind that blowing on
those gives a much higher chance of making a flaky cart work right.  I'm
sure others can back me up on this.  It's got to do something, because the
effect is quite dramatic.  Insert the same cart 20 times, it'll fail 20
times.  Blow on it once and it works.  My guess is that the thin layer of
moisture/condensate is the key.  Perhaps it helps overcome some resistance
due to oxidization of the cart edge connector ? This effect, in fact,
inspired the NES "Blow me" tee shirt here:


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