USB Universal Floppy Disk controller

Vintage Computer Festival vcf at
Tue Mar 15 11:40:21 CST 2005

On Tue, 15 Mar 2005, Doc Shipley wrote:

>   For purposes of connecting old storage to new computers, Barry's
> point stands.  The discussion here doesn't really include development
> hardware, low-level controllers or embedded systems.  If I were going to
> design hardware for a "next-gen compaticard", it would not be on a
> serial port.

I suppose it depends what hardware you're working with.  Most of the
systems that I use to dump data are old 486 or Pentium PCs.  Even 386 and
286 machines are useful.  And these are machines that will be around in
droves for years to come.  I can also stick an ethernet card in them with
TCP/IP drivers and attach to my Windows XP server.  My older PCs don't
have USB, and even if I could plug in a USB PCI adapater (most of them
also don't have PCI slots) I wouldn't have the drivers.

At any rate, I don't think the point was pitting USB against serial but
had more to do with not focusing on what tie you should wear when you're
going to dig a hole.

> I won't argue that serial is underrated

Well, for our purposes, it's far more "universal" than USB.

>    Just to throw a monkey wrench into the mix, we might consider
> ethernet.  Even more universal than USB, doesn't exclude older systems,
> and only comes in three common connectors (that I can think of.  A lot

Guess what?  Serial includes even more systems and a serial connector can
be wired up for any connection without much trouble, usually with just two

> of the appliance-oriented microcontrollers and CPUs now have builtin
> ethernet, right?  With microcoded TCP stacks and even DHCP clients.
> Plug your 8" floppy drives into your *network*....

Have fun programming the drivers for that.

At any rate, as long as we have USB to serial converters then that at
least guarantees that people investing in contemporary hardware will still
be able to connect to their vintage computers.

And one other point that Dwight made that can't be ignored is that USB
does require specific drivers for the device on the other end, as opposed
to serial which is a just a simple, dumb data connection.  Why does
everything have to be "smart" anyway?

I'll continue to prefer straight serial for some time to come.


Sellam Ismail                                        Vintage Computer Festival
International Man of Intrigue and Danger      

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