Vinyl culture is really getting out of hand, folks.
This absolute madman has booted DOS from a vinyl record. Or at least he says he has. It’s all pretty fascinating wizardry, but it seems to check out.
*RECORD SCRATCH* I bet you’re wondering how we got here.
Jozef Bogin details his process on his blog, in which he calls it a “nutty little experiment” and he’s not wrong.
He explains that the process involves connecting an IBM PC to a record player via an amplifier. This is possible thanks to a part on the PC that was hardly ever used, but allows for a cassette interface to be accessed by the Bios to boot when the more likely options fail.
Bogin modified a FreeDOS kernel to fit the 64k size constraints. Then grabbed a micro variant of COMMAND.COM, and a version of INTERLINK which specifically allows transfer of data over printer cable and altered it to run on the aforementioned FreeDOS kernel.
What this means is the record plays an analogue recording of a bootable read-only RAM drive containing those programs. The audio recording is then read by the bootloader through the previously somewhat ignored cassette modem of the IBM PC. This loads it to the memory and, voila, you’ve just booted from a vinyl record.
Bogin goes into much further detail about the nitty gritty on his blog, which is well worth checking out if you’re technologically curious or even just a little cyber whimsical.
Personally I love the romance of this. Collectors and music lovers have fallen head over heels for vinyl over the past few years. Vinyl are huge, unwieldy, require specific and uncommon hardware to even use, and I can hold an entire lifetime’s collection of music on a tiny excellent rectangle.
But people still love records because of how they feel. The warm tones, the way they slip out of their cases, watching them spin. The ritual or revolution.
The idea of tech running off sound is always cool. It comes up more than you’d expect with some consumer devices even using high frequency audio to transfer information in ways you’d never notice.
But things booting off warm, spinning, old school records is just next level. Like an alternate future in a vinyl punk world, and I am very very here for it. Thanks for the “nutty little experiment”, Bogin.