FILE_ID.DIZ Stories… A Trip Down Memory Lane

Categories: ASCII, BBS, history, Oldskool
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Published on: February 11, 2009

I remember the days when there was no such thing as “file_id.diz” and users had to enter a description for every single file that you uploaded manually. A pain in the ass and often causing poor descriptions of your file directory, because most users (especially in the “Warez Scene” or “Software Pirates Scene“) did not have the time to enter very long and descriptive details to every file.

Remember, there was no copy-and-paste nor multi-tasking at that time either.

I know that the AMIGA guys had tools that worked similar to the Windows Clipboard. For that reason was the Amiga scene also the first that introduced the mini ASCII logos of release groups that AMIGA couriers used for the BBS file descriptions to make the files more prominent.

Oldskool (AMIGA style) file_id.diz ASCII design for the Elite Warez PC release group Razor 1911
Quake III (c)Id???Software final CD???Rip
__________ .
/________ \ ???============??? : ???[01/99]???
: | _\ )__/|______ ____|\ __
_/????????? | /___/ _____ / __ \ \/ \ ??????\_
\????????? | . \ < |/ /____\ | .\_/ ??????/
??? ??? | |\______|___________/ | ????????? ???
??? | / .:.nineteeneleven.:.\ | roy
???== |/ ===================== \| ====???


Logos were adapted by the PC scene after file_id.diz was introduced by Clark Development Corporation (I believe that was with PC Board V14.5, but I am not 100% sure, it could also been V15.0).

The first ASCII (file_id) logos for PC releases were Amiga style designs, often even the same logos used by the Amiga section of the group, if it had any.

I don’t want to show off, but I truly believe that I was the first one who created and used a Block ASCII (PC) style file_id for releases. It was the file_id.diz design for my first PC group that I co-founded called Cardinals in early 1993 and merged entirely into TRSI/Faith in 1994.

Quick Info: What is File_ID.diz?

File_ID.diz is a file name for a small text-file that is added to a compressed archive file (such as ZIP, the de-facto standard for distributing programs via Bulletin Board Systems). The file_id.diz is added by the creator of the program archive file and contains the name of the program and maybe some additional useful information. The sole purpose of the file was the use on bulletin board systems. After a file was uploaded by the user, the BBS software looks for the existence of a file_id.diz file in the archive and uses its content automatically for the description in the file listings, if it finds one. If no file_id.diz was included in the file, the user had to enter a description for it manually.

Cardinals released awesome trainers for PC games with an amount and quality of options never seen before (or after)… Fuck “Dread“! They were “lamer” hehe.

The Cardinals File_ID.DIZ design in Block ASCII Style from early 1993. The First of it’s kind? (proof me wrong!)

Also see this and here.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
???????????? ???????????? ???????????? ???????????? ??? ???????????? ???????????? ?????? ????????????
?????? ??? ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ?????? ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ???????????? .
?????? ??? ???????????? ???????????? ?????? ??? ?????? ?????? ??? ???????????? ?????? ??? ?????? ???
???????????? ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ???????????? ?????? ?????? ??? ?????? ??? ???????????? ????????????
?????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????? ???????????????trained??????????????????
??? ?????? ???
??? ?????? ???
??? ???

Cardinals trainer releases did stick-out on the boards, because the big and bold block ASCII logo was hard to miss among those oldskool ASCII logos and regular text.

Hey, If you don’t believe me that the Cardinals file_id was the first one using a Block ASCII logo, fine. If you can show me BBS listings from before that where block ASCII was used, I’d appreciate it (actually not, but for history sake, I’d rather proven wrong than making a false claim).

Anyhow. I used Block ASCII for the Cardinals file_id, because I wanted it to stick out. I also used extensively Block ASCII for the Cardinals NFO ASCII that was also not very typical at that time.

Well, the coders had to learn the ALT + numeric ASCII character code combination for 4 block characters… not too much to ask. ALT-176, ALT-177, ALT-178 and ALT-219 :) It wasn’t for long that other groups followed suit and also used Block ASCII for their file_id’s and I was thinking about even better ways to make file descriptions stick out more.

Block ASCII Codes 101 :)

??? = ASCII character 176
??? = ASCII character 177
??? = ASCII character 178
??? = ASCII character 219

In order to generate those characters, you had to press the "ALT" key and enter the ASCII code
on the numeric keyboard (while holding the ALT-Key pressed) and then release the ALT-Key at which
moment it would render the character that represents the entered ASCII value.

I thought about ANSI and created the designs that you can see here in my deviation for testing. They were never used of course. First of all, the ESC sequences would have been a problem in many cases.

Also the length of File descriptions (per line) … I believe it was 42 characters for most BBS systems, would have posed an issue. The color formatting of the ANSI codes (or PC Board color codes, if you would have used those) limited very much the characters that would remain for the logo itself.

AMIGA-Sysop’s and traders would also had have some problems with those… It was an interesting concept for a moment, but failed for very practical reasons.

ansi_file_id_concepts1993 Long, but nice story eh?

I almost forgot about this, but then I found my ANSI file_id.diz designs and it all came back to me :).

I started a collection of file_id.diz artwork that was used by scene groups for their releases. My collection still has a bunch of holes, but it had a good start and already includes over 240 file_ids. I also made the whole collection available as a single ZIP archive for download which includes the ASCII files in original format. You might want to check it out. Enjoy!


Carsten aka Roy/SAC

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