I apologise if it is all old news but I don’t know anyone else that has done this and I have never read anything about it. Probably because it’s a pretty useless thing to do, hence the title.
When I say younger days I’m talking late teens to late twenties its only then that older computers of the time started to be available at second hand shops, boot fairs and the like at a price I could afford, since those late twenties I have been through pretty much the lot, Z80, ZX Spectrum all the versions of Commodore machines, Amstrad. I didn’t get my first PC (second hand) until I swapped an Amiga 1200 for a 486, I have no idea what year that was but you could still buy the Amiga 1200 new in stores at the time. The PC in question had a 20mb hard drive and all of 8mb memory (corr!) which seems ridiculous today.
Anyway I have upgraded through the years and now have something resembling up to date. It just occurred to me a few years ago thinking about all these old things and with the 3.1 disks hanging around that with 256mb of memory and a Pentium II it might be fun to see how the old system worked on a virtual disk in memory. The method I used was to install it on an old hard disk which was ready to go in the bin and then I zipped all the system files into a sys.zip file and the same for the Windows files Win.zip. I created a floppy disk which was set to create the virtual disk, booted that up then made folders for windows and the system files with Dos on the virtual disk and then extracted the win and sys.zip files into their corresponding folders, then started it with with the win.exe command (in Windows folder) and there it was, one blink and Windows, super fast, I imagine if you installed some 3.1 programs on that hard disk and zipped them up you would get some results there too. Once you have got a boot disk set up and the zip files arranged it doesn’t take long to get going, because of course it all disappears from memory when you turn off. This is I suppose is the equivalent of the square wheel in computing terms but it kept me amused for a few hours, not least because of seeing Windows work so fast.