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ITEM 107: box of TDK MF-2DD multicolor double-sided floppy disks with a letter inside
Found on: 7/5/15
Materials: polyvinyl chloride (PVC), stainless steel, mylar, paper
Damage/wear: none
Provenance: recording media manufactured in Japan, disks assembled in the US, disks probably recorded (and note written) in the US
Factory/production details: TDK – which stands for Tokyo Denkikigaku Kogyo (Tokyo Electronics and Chemicals) – was founded in 1935 in Tokyo. It originally produced ferrite, a magnetic material which had recently been invented in Japan; it moved on to magnetic tapes in the 60s, such as the cassette tapes for which it’s best known. It began making floppy disks in 1982.
It’s unclear where in Japan the magnetic media was produced, as well as where in the US the disks were assembled. 
Date or date range: late 1980s, early 1990s; letter written on 7/1/93
Still in production: no
Rare: no
Still attainable from: eBay
Value: $25-45
Use: Floppy disks were the predominant form of consumer data storage in the 1990s. People used disks to save photos, documents, software, etc. Each TDK MF-2DD disk held 1.4 MB (for comparison, a $7 TDK flash drive now holds 16 GB) – the “2-DD” in the name refers to the fact that the disks were double-sided and double-density. At the time, it was common for computers to have floppy disk drives, but they became largely obsolete by the mid-2000s.
In July 1991, someone named Franz sent these disks in the mail to a friend named Bart or Bort. The disks contained various software programs: AHED (American Heritage English Dictionary – 4 disks), Quicken (2 disks – ”this is a good program for keeping track of your finances,” the label says), the Wheel of Fortune MS-DOS game, one disk of games, and one that says “assorted.” The handwriting on the disks matches the letter, meaning that Franz copied this software to give to his friend and making this an interesting physical example of early file-sharing. In the letter, Franz apologizes for taking so long to send the programs. He also says he is leaving the computer selling business to go back to school for “existential / phenomenological psych,” and that living with his girlfriend has exposed some problems in their relationship (”I’m sure you know well from your experience,” he says), but that generally things are going well.