For me, there are a couple of different ways I can answer this. My current laptop has a slimmed-down home directory. Technically, the oldest file (that doesn’t have a “1979-12-31 00:00:00” non-date date) is a “todo” from within the OpenSSL library package. I do quite a lot of security and encryption work with OpenSSL and all of the files in this version seem to be dated 1998-12-21. The oldest file not part of a file archive is
~/Library/Fonts/HEADMH__.TTF, with a timestamp of 2002-10-09. It is the “Headline Modified” font from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society Prop CD. The oldest file that I created myself is a design document for work that I can’t really discuss from 2004-08-19. The oldest files that I can talk about, that I actually created (so, skipping over mbox and Apple Address Book data files) is
~/Code/workspace/pietro_files/sentences.txt, an input(?) file to an online puzzle in the early days of Perplex City. The content of a blog post was used to calculate hidden URLs which could be retrieved and arranged to access more of the story. If I remember correctly, I wrote a simple little app to parse the blog and grab information from the URLs.
On my desktop (well, technically, the old laptop), the oldest file with a real date is 1992-04-28,
~/Data/Old Drives/etc/Sound/eol.wav, a clip from the movie Tron saying “End of Line.” I’m not sure if I downloaded this or recorded it from VHS on the Amiga I had at the time (the PC didn’t have a SoundBlaster), so I can’t say a whole lot about it. The oldest file that I actually created myself looks to be 1996-10-07,
~/Data/Old Drives/etc2/web/enigma/ (and a bit later that day, Card_Page.html), the web version of a desktop publishing flyer I sometimes passed out at the local 2600 [hacker] meetings. This one was some research I did on the patents for credit card magstripes and included information on the density and formatting of the tracks. A few months later, someone had a device hooked up to the parallel port of a laptop that could read and decode magstripes on credit cards, drivers licenses, student cards, and whatnot.
So those are the oldest files in my home directory. My desktop has a
/var/cvs repository that has even older files, but that’s not in my home directory, so doesn’t technically count toward this particular meme. Similar to the previous post, I have much, much older files on CD archives, but the likelihood of me digging through those for a meme is pretty low.