Someone rigged up a PC to boot from a vinyl LP

They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should.

It's been nearly 200 days since lockdown began, and the effects are really starting to show. Case in point, a guy by the name of Jozef Bogin decided to find the most inefficient way he could boot up an old IBM PC. What he landed on was... a vinyl record.

A nerd's favorite song? — PCs can boot from a variety of storage devices like a hard drive, solid-state drive, USB stick, or DVD. It's also possible to boot older computers from cassette tapes, so Bogin figured a record player connected to an IBM 5150 PC through an amplifier could work. How long it takes an OS to boot from these varying devices depends on read speeds, and since vinyls spin slowly, it takes about six minutes for DOS to boot from one.

A copy of the FreeDOS operating system was recorded on a vinyl record (using a third-party company), and a turntable spins an analog recording of the OS as audio into the computer's memory. Bogin had to create a new bootloader that understands to read the disk image from the audio recording through the PC's cassette modem, loads it into memory, and boots the system. It's inelegant, but heck, it works.

Bogin shared a video on YouTube that shows the computer booting from the vinyl and the sound of MS-DOS is pretty excruciating, so you probably wouldn't want to boot from that often or else risk driving your significant other insane. But who knows, maybe for the right nerd it's music to their ears.

'Ole reliable — Even though it may be slow to boot, recording information to vinyl could be the most robust method of data storage out there. If you keep good care of vinyl it can last well over 100 years. SSDs on the other hand have an expected lifespan of 5-7 years. Vinyl is also better than the floppy disks that this computer might otherwise use, which tend to deteriorate quickly.

If you want to learn more about the technical aspects — perhaps you want to try it yourself — Bogin has written a full blog post detailing how it works.