Original 1992 Agrippa Diskette Used to Make Emulated Run of William Gibson’s Poem

Front (in wrapper)
Front (in wrapper)

Front
Front

Back
Back

 
 
Item #D52. Original 1992 Agrippa 3½”, 1.4 Mb diskette belonging to collector Allan Chasanoff used to make the disk-image copy and emulated run of the William Gibson poem featured on this site.

This was the diskette used to create The Agrippa File’s disk-image (bit-level) copy of William Gibson’s poem and its accompanying software, as well as the emulated run of the whole package. In the Digital Forensics Lab at the University of Maryland, College Park, multiple copies were spawned from the original diskette and run through a computer emulating the platform of a 1992-vintage Mac. Multiple instances of Gibson’s poem thus came back to life, ran, and died (disappeared at the hands of the disk’s included encryption program) in the effort to capture the experience of reading the original poem—the experience, that is, minus the sense of one-time-only uniqueness that was part of the core work.

The diskette was loaned by Allan Chasanoff from his copy of Agrippa (editioned “10/95″). Chasanoff’s copy of the book is part of a collection of “book art” he began aggregating in 1990 that has grown to 275 works. The theme of his collection is “the artist and the new ‘disrespect’ he had in opposition to the older cultural devotion to the integrity of the book” (email from Chasanoff to Alan Liu, 5 December 2008).

The creation date of the software on Chasanoff’s diskette is “Wed., Sept. 23, 1992, at 1:13 pm; Modified Wed., Oct. 7, 1992, 10:50 pm.” The Post-It note on the wrapper of the diskette is Chasanoff’s original note (apparently dating from the time of acquisition). For discussion of the digital forensics used to recover and run the software from this disk, see Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, with Doug Reside and Alan Liu, “No Round Trip: Two New Primary Sources for Agrippa.”