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Take a look back at the retro stylings of these '80s floppy disk sleeves

You can find a million old, oddball things you never expected to be preserved on the Internet Archive, and along the way stumble upon a million more you never knew existed. At present, I'm smitten with this collection of 5 ¼ floppy sleeves put together by archivist Jason Scott

As a kid I played Zaxxon and Montezuma's Revenge on my dad's old IBM-compatible PC, which I'd load software into from true floppies. At the time I didn't give much thought to the hodgepodge assortment of sleeves that kept each disk safe, but today it's fun to look back on the '80s typography, branding, and care instructions that were once commonplace.

There are 628 photos in this collection (hosted on Flickr for easy viewing), which is probably a fraction of a percentage of all the floppy sleeves that were designed and printed back in the 5 ¼ floppy's day. Unlike the much-less-floppy 3 ½ inch disks that followed them, these disks didn't have a sliding metal shield protecting their internal magnetic storage. Hence the sleeve: it protected the exposed bit from fingerprints and scratches, keeping the disk readable.

They were also a chance to get stylish. The disks themselves were almost universally plain black plastic, with a sticker to identify the software, so the sleeves were the place to show off. There are some quintessentially '80s fonts on display on the sleeves Scott collected, along with long-dead brands and others that haven't been big names in PC tech since, well, the days of the 5 ¼ floppy. 

I've pulled out a few of my favorites to highlight in the gallery below, but take five minutes to flip through the rest of them over on Flickr. That's just a tiny taste of the fun stuff you can find on the Internet Archive itself. Like a collection of 7,000 MS-DOS games playable in-browser, for example.

Image 1 of 13

I don't think I need to explain why I love this bizarre sleeve art.

I don't think I need to explain why I love this bizarre sleeve art.
Image 2 of 13

These guys are probably making bagels or men's shaving cream now

These guys are probably making bagels or men's shaving cream now
Image 3 of 13

Cool font, cool globe, perfectly of-its-era digital art.

Cool font, cool globe, perfectly of-its-era digital art.
Image 4 of 13

There should still be an elephant-branded memory company today.

There should still be an elephant-branded memory company today.
Image 5 of 13

There's a lot of movement going on in this image, but I'm here for the font work.

There's a lot of movement going on in this image, but I'm here for the font work.
Image 6 of 13

Classy.

Classy.
Image 7 of 13

That scanline apple globe really just screams "COMPUTERS!" doesn't it?

That scanline apple globe really just screams "COMPUTERS!" doesn't it?
Image 8 of 13

Get it? The sleeve is a pouch! Someone was very clever.

Get it? The sleeve is a pouch! Someone was very clever.
Image 9 of 13

Another one I love simply for the font. Look at how audacious that R is.

Another one I love simply for the font. Look at how audacious that R is.
Image 10 of 13

Activision really shouldn't have abandoned the rainbow. It's fun!

Activision really shouldn't have abandoned the rainbow. It's fun!
Image 11 of 13

This guy is creepy as hell, and there's an overwhelming amount of ad copy going on on this disk. Calm down, sleeve.

This guy is creepy as hell, and there's an overwhelming amount of ad copy going on on this disk. Calm down, sleeve.
Image 12 of 13

There's my cliche '80s technology font!

There's my cliche '80s technology font!
Image 13 of 13

Man, the colored apple logo was really good.

Man, the colored apple logo was really good.
When he's not 50 hours into a JRPG or an opaque ASCII roguelike, Wes is probably playing the hottest games of three years ago. He oversees features, seeking out personal stories from PC gaming's niche communities. 50% pizza by volume.