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Data retrieval from old Floppy discs used by Word Processor

By terryc
Apr 18, 2005
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  1. I am trying to help a disabled cousin who has lots of poems (700+) which were produced and saved using a Olympia Carrera Word processor.

    He now has a PC but has no way of recovering many years of work.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we can possibly access these files. The File names do not have a specific file extension. For example a file could be called BITSANDB.OBS or MIST.
  2. Anonymous Danny

    Anonymous Danny TS Rookie Posts: 48

    So wait, was the word processor a program on an older computer?
  3. terryc

    terryc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    The word processor is a Olympia Carrera machine which has a floppy drive. This company is no longer in business, but the machine uses Brother Ribbons. I did get in touch with brother but was told they did not make machine. But they did direct me to some file conversion software.

    But I cannot read the floppy disc in my pc.

    Could this be because my machine does cannot read the old format of these disc's. If so is there some way I can get my PC to read this old format?

    Terryc
  4. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 8,165

    What is the exact model number of that Olympia machine?
    What physical size are the floppies, and for what capacity were they formatted?

    You may get lucky with an old Amstrad, or a PC that still runs CP/M-80 or CP/M-86.
    Another one to try is the old Atari ST or even the PET or CBM.

    My best bet would be it is CP/M.
    You can get CP/M emulators and converters from CP/M to DOS here amongst others:
    http://www.cpm.z80.de/
    http://www.gaby.de/edownl.htm

    Another program to try is Smartdisk. Can read up to 200 different floppy formats. I have it around somewhere (I think), but I've no idea where I hid it.
  5. terryc

    terryc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks for the response, I will give it a try & report back later.

    One thing. reading through some advise on this site I decided to try using the Recover facillity in DOS, just to see what happened.
    I entered recover A:\sales and received a response saying "type of file is RAW Recover is not available for RAW drives"

    Dos this message help in any way in guiding me to a solution?
  6. terryc

    terryc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Realblackstuff, you ask what the exact model of the Olympia machine was. It was a Carrera. Thats all the information I have.

    The size of the floppy's is about 0.7mb ?

    I have managed to get hold of an actual machine & it does read the disc's. I have printed out some files, Scanned them and then done OCR followed by saving as a MS Word Document with no problems, but it is very time consuming.

    does your previous comments re the sites to get emulators & Converters still apply.

    This is all now in an area where I have no knowledge, but if it still applies I will have a go as it would be much better than printing out 700 Poems on an old Word Processor.
  7. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 8,165

    What TYPE of floppies are they, the standard 720KB 3.5" with just one (coverable) hole, or 1.44MB with 2 holes?
    Turn that machine over, there must me more markings perhaps on the bottom or rear.
    Olympia Carrera only finds me ink ribbons.
    And of course those links are valid.
    Try that cpm site for any converters, I'm sure they are there, just hunt around.
  8. terryc

    terryc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    They are the 1.44 type with 2 holes. Ref the Olympia Machine I have managed to get hold of, there are no other ref numbers Just Olympia with model as Carrera WP Its made in Korea. Plan to try your suggestion tonight.
  9. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 8,165

    You may achieve it with this converter that I found:
    ftp://ftp.gaby.de/pub/dos/22dsk144.zip
    It supports several Olympia formats.
    You may have to try the download a few times before you 'catch' it.

    You could install this on a W98 machine where you start her up in DOS-mode.

    Here is another particularly good page:
    http://www.seasip.demon.co.uk/Cpm/oldflop.html

    Of course, all my info is based on the assumption, that those floppies are of the CP/M flavour.

    Best of Irish...

    The Smartdisk program is widely available on CD for $9.99
    Search for 'smartdisk cp/m msdos'
  10. terryc

    terryc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Realblackstuff, I have loaded 22 Disk & Have tried many Disk Type setting, vertually all are 5.25 disks. Dispite the programme trying to read the old floppy's so far I have had no success.

    Reading the manual there is a Building Custom Diskette Definitions section. Do I need to do this? In the hints on developing definitions it talks about a program ANADISK which will get lots of information to enable a definition to be developed, should I get & run this programme first?
  11. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 8,165

    You can get it at the bottom of this webpage:
    http://www.alecmcnamara.freeserve.co.uk/keydisk/
    There are some instructions there as well.

    It sure would help I guess.
    I think it may be worth your while to get one of those Smartdisk CDs. Only $9.99 (about £5.25) so it's not a great loss if it would not work.
     
  12. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 9,431

    If the word processor device stores the text of the documents in plaintext then you could retrieve the text part of the works by looking at the raw disk contents of the floppies.

    You can use any program capable of it to copy an image of the floppy to your computer and then examine the resulting file with your favourite plaintext/hex editor.
  13. terryc

    terryc TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Thanks from terryc

    To all at Techspot & realblackstuff a hearty thank you for your help & support.
    I finally finished my task of getting all these poem's which my disabled cousin thought he had lost off the old floppy disks.

    The look on his face when he realised that between us all, we had retrieved his hard work, made the effort more than worth while.

    The tears he shed when his words came back to life were something I will remember always.

    Thanks again for a great web site & a great set of people who are so willing to help others.

    terryc :) :) :) :) :) :bounce:
  14. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,745

    Thank you for posting back and letting us know you got everything straightened away. It's always good to hear back from people who we have helped. See ya around, and if you have any more questions, don't feel shy about asking. ;)
  15. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 9,431

    How exactly did you manage to do it?
  16. patio

    patio TS Maniac Posts: 700

    Excellent and congrats terry.

    patio. :cool:
  17. RealBlackStuff

    RealBlackStuff TS Rookie Posts: 8,165

    I'm happy that we could help you there.
    If you have the time, please tell us how you did it in the end.
    Someone in the future will have the same problem, and that someone will be more than happy to find the solution!
  18. electroken

    electroken TS Rookie

    hi to all - hope I can get help and give some in return

    I have read some of the posts about reading disks in a pc which have been used to save files from a brother word processor. I have an 86 yr old friend who is in need of being able to move his files to a pc where I have some programs which can convert them to word etc. Then he would be able to print them on a normal printer and also send them to other relatives so they could read them or also print them. As the old saying goes, "No good deed goes unpunished", so I have been having quite a time trying to find a program which will let my pc (in any dos or windows mode) read those disks. I know of one called 22disk but cannot find a copy of it. One site listed here has removed the file since it was not exactly public domain. Anyone else have a copy so I can try it? Or maybe one of you might have another program I could try. So far I have tried anadisk, omnidisk, omniflop, and some other one. I can buy a program for about $40 but seems like a lot to pay to do a good turn. So if any of you have an idea, let me know.
  19. Row1

    Row1 TS Maniac Posts: 355   +8

    first, back up. then try to rename *.txt

    basically, people are talking about recovering old files that have text information on them. they are not floppies with spreadsheet data, programs, etc. they are files of written material.

    First, back up all old floppies!

    If you are not good at this, get someone to help you. Get a comp that still has DOS and do "xcopy."

    If you look around, you can still find the 5.25 inch floppies, and the 5.25 drives. They are easy to install for someone that is familiar with installing a computer component of any kind.


    recovery:
    often, these older machines used the basic ascii text editor. if so, and if you renamed any of these files in the 8.3 format, with the extension ".txt", they should open up in a current word processor: MS Word, MS Notepad, MS Wordpad, Corel Wordperfect, etc.

    Just whatever the name is, remname it like this: shorten it to 8 letters, then put .txt right after the name. Like: turn thejoyofspring into joysprin.txt

    It may not be perfect because there might be some extra formatting info that would be displayed as characters (that would look like nonsense writing), and there might be some formatting that would be lost, i.e., titles that were underlined are not underlined anymore. No big deal, as long as you have the entire text.

    Many older word processor programs and typewriters were simply glorified ascii editors. They still are. That is why you can cut and paste from MS Word into some blank on an internet order form - they use the same language to code for each of the 26 letters.

    often, because these typewriters-with-memory-and-floppies were systems to be used for one thing and one thing only, you did not have to give "extensions" to file names. They did not have to be able to tell a text file from a program file from a music file.

    Word Perfect 5.0 was a DOS-based word processor that was very big for years. It did not ask you to give file extensions to file names. But if you renamed them whatever.txt, you could get them to open up in a Windows 3.1 or Windows 95-based word processor program like MS Word.
  20. electroken

    electroken TS Rookie

    I do have a question unanswered yet

    I know it was a really specialized question about an old Brother Word Processor that used low density 3-1/2" disks in a floppy drive on the machine to save the files my friend had typed on the machine. He is 86 now and has written quite a lot of stuff on the Brother WP (unfortunately) as it seems to be impossible to get those disks to even read in a pc as a starting point to perhaps change over the text files so they can be read and printed from a normal windows or older pc. I cannot even start to do anything until I am able to read those disks in my pc whether I am running windows or some version of dos is not of consequence but I cannot seem to figure out how to do it.
    I have tried a lot of programs but perhaps I am not trying them in the correct type of windows os or I might have to use dos; I am just at a loss which os to even try for this. I have even fired up one of my old Amiga 500 machines to see if it could even see the disk and not want to format it.
    If any of you have found some way to do this without sending about 40 or 50 disks to England for them to do it at Luxor I would appreciate it. I cannot imagine spending about 7 or 8 dollars a disk to do this as a favor to him; unless I pick the right numbers on the power ball today.
    I think I have a lot of programs which will convert the Brother files to something I can use in word or something like that, but I cant get to that point at all. No one seems to understand what I am asking them for and that is simply a way to read those disks in my pc. I have thought of taking the disk drive out of the machine and putting it in a usb holder and seeing if I could do it then. I just hate Brother for doing this and would never ever advise anyone to buy such a propriatory device where there is no output other than the paper you print in it. I would like to be able to give his files to his relatives so they can be able to continue his genealogy work.
  21. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 9,431

    Do not ignore advice already given.
  22. Row1

    Row1 TS Maniac Posts: 355   +8

    older dos-based computer?

    first, I would suggest that you post this question as its own topic. As it is now, it is kind of buried in another topic.

    second, i would definitely try to read these with a computer set up with an old floppy drive and with dos. i believe you will need both a floppy drive that can read the format, and a computer running a disc operating system that will read the old version.

    you are right that for any program to work, you first have to have a computer that will read the floppy discs. it may be windows that can't/won't read the floppies. in the 1980s, the way that floppy discs were written was changed from the 'double density' format to the 'high density' format, and it may be unlikely that wondows nowadays will read 'double density' - i believe that this is the correct format for the discs you have, and are calling 'low density.' the 'double density' term indicated an update to an earlier format that could write even less to a 3.5inch floppy disc. i doubt that brother used that format. but i am not sure.

    it is possible that a current/recent windows operating system would read the disc if only your floppy drive could support the older write format.

    if you post the question in its own topic, you may get more attention from someone who remembers this stuff better than i do, and could guide you.

    i would find a local computer shop with an old guy working in there, and ask for some help. if you tell why you are trying to red these discs, i believe someone will love the effort you are making and help you out.

    if you find a computer that can read the disc itself, then i believe you would be on your way to recovering the text from the floppies - by following the suggestion i posted earlier in this thread.

    i think i have finally sold my old floppy drives, including the 5.25inch i kept around forever, in garage sales. i burned all of my old floppy data to cd.

    i know i have windows 3.1 (burned to cd), but i am not sure if i still have an old version of dos. but the last i checked, you could get dos on ebay.
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