"So basically the floppy-emulator RAM card was my generation's version of the SSD. Except without that persistence without power thing..."
Exactly. Later, as 2+megs of memory were standard on PCs, but DOS couldn't handle it, some people used the "extra" memory as a "RAMdrive", which is the same basic idea.
I still have a 386sx16 (+math-co) with 8 megs of RAM ... It runs DOS 5.0 & DesqView. Back in the late '80s, one of my standard boot configurations used one meg for the basic OS, and 7 megs as a RAMdrive to run the Mark Williams C compiler, mostly to develop small utilities for DOS and UN*X systems. In that configuration, it was an order of magnitude faster than the 64 meg 68030-based Sun 3/470 I used at work, at least when compiling the same files.
Before you pooh-pooh the above paragraph, consider that MWC was hand coded in assembler. As a result, the entire system (sans "demo" junk) fit on a single 1.44 floppy. That's the compiler, the assembler, the linker, the standard C libraries, an excellent debugger, some pretty good in-line help (not quite man pages, but close) AND a pretty good screen editor! I had a 7meg partition on a hard drive that was copied over to the RAMdrive when booting in that configuration, leaving me 5.5 megs for work space. Various environment variables were set accordingly.
Obviously, I had batch files to sync drives, and to halt or reboot the system when using the RAMdrive, so I didn't lose data. Also obviously, a crash would lose current work, so the batch file that called the compiler saved the "current state" to a second 7 meg partition on a hard drive before running the rest of the job. Not so obviously, I could use the hard-drive version if I wanted when using the 7megs of RAM for something else, by changing the environment variables set on boot, including saving the "working" 7 meg image to yet another 7 meg partition before starting to muck about with the "in progress" source ... Most folks never really figured out how to configure DOS to suit their needs ...
 Bill Gates never made the famous "640K should be enough" quote. The 640K "limit" under DOS was actually because IBM decided to put hardware RAM above 640K. In fact, most folks with a clue from the era had 720K or more of lower DOS memory available.
 I had a configuration that allowed me to run Win3.0 & 3.1 reliably under DesqView, but I never really saw the point.
 Am I the only one who customized config.sys & autoexec.bat to make booting into any number of different configurations possible? DOS was a down & dirty OS, but if you understood it's ins & outs, it was actually quite usable for little stuff.
 Note that I learned UNIX[tm] long before [PC|MS]-DOS existed. I'm not saying DOS was a good OS, just that it was usable IF you knew what you were doing. Kinda like most OSes.
 Yes. UNIX[tm]. Pre-BSD. I have a signed original Lions Commentary in the same UV resistant glass case as my nano second, my coffee & Guinness stained signed first edition K&R, and my wet-ink EWD. I'm not a computer guru groupie, just been around the block a few times, I guess :-)