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“… (by Tom Procyk)
Much to my surprise, I noticed a version of Space Quest 4 – high density disks – with the tan labels! Now I assume this was during the transition period to the colorband labels, but it’s still cool to see them on black disks for a new(er) release. …”

I think the transition to the colorband labels occured around 1992. So, the first versions of KQ5, SQ4, and probably others such as PQ3, QFG1VGA, SQ1VGA, etc. had the tan labels.

“… This leads me to my second oddity discovery: The “odd” version of King’s Quest 5. (with the goofy photo of King Graham dragging everything and the family dog into the game on the box) The 256-color versions I’ve seen of this release all had 8 disks on 3.5″ and the 9th (startup disk) on a 5.25″ What was the reason behind this? Seems to me this would cause some problems along the way somewhere. Later versions had all 9 disks on 3.5″ …”

This version is not so odd, it’s just the original release 😉
At the time (1990), on the PC the standard was still 5.25″, but it was quickly transitionning to 3.5″ (HD). Many people (including myself) had their HD 5.25″ drive, but had also bought a HD 3.5″ drive because their prices had come down so much. Some people also either didn’t have a hard disk yet, or it was still very small (like 20-30MB) and fully occupied. Since KQ5 required 2 disk drives to run without a hard disk (you had to leave a single disk inserted in one of the drives, while the other had all the swaps), it was distributed with both formats, one of them only with the startup disk. You would insert the startup disk in your older 5.25″ drive (and leave it there for the whole playing time), and the other disks in your brand new 3.5″ drive.
This time really didn’t last long. The Atari ST, Amiga and Apple 2/2GS quickly died, and people started buying new PCs like crazy. These new PCs (around 1992) always featured 3.5″ drives (gone were the days of 5.25″), at least a 386 processor, always VGA or Super-VGA, and at least a 40MB hard drive.

Aah, those were the days! 😉

In other oddities, the last versions of Sierra games were released with the new labels/boxes. I have an Apple 2 version of Mixed-Up Mother Goose in the same box as the 1990 VGA version. It’s usual to see the Apple 2GS version of King’s Quest 1 in the 1990 box.
Also, KQ1-4, SQ1-3, etc. were released with the newer box sticker displaying a big “EGA” instead of the usual 4 or so small lines of text.