In my next blog entry, I'm going to address the issue of transferring physical media. In layman's terms, that means: "What do I do with all of these old VHS tapes, vinyl records, cassette tapes, and other things that I don't use a player for these days? Is there hope in salvaging what's on there?"
But for today, I'm just going to give you a quick addendum to yesterday's floppy issue.
As I mentioned in the last blog, I successfully transferred a bunch of PC floppies to my current PC. However, my old 5.25" floppies from ye olde Apple IIc are another story. They're not that easy to transfer, and not just because I'd need to get a drive with a 5.25" floppy slot. Apparently, Apple did things completely different back then.
Yes, yes, I know you zealous Mac cultists think Apple can do no wrong and that all things Apple are compatible with all things Apple, but that really isn't the case. I asked for advice on one of the forums I frequent, and a user I know by the name of Chess gave me this very informative reply:
It's not just a matter of obsolete filesystems, either. If I recall
correctly, the old Apple II method of disk access used a completely
different system of tracks and sectors, and "modern" (PC or Mac) floppy
drives aren't physically capable of operating in that way. From what
I've heard, the best way to get data off an Apple II disk is to find a
working Apple II and then rig up some sort of serial-cable null-modem
arrangement to a modern PC. (No, really.) Needless to say, this is a
considerable hassle, even to a tech geek with a do-it-yourself spirit.
That's why all your favorite abandonware classics were transferred this way ONCE and no one since has bothered to so it again. For example, if you download a copy of the original Oregon Trail disks and play them in an emulator, chances are excellent you'll run across a tombstone engraved with the epitaph "peperony and chease" [sic], left by the saved game of some kid who thought he was being clever, sometime in the 80s. "Peperony and chease" has even become something of a catch phrase on account of this. (No, really.) [See point #7 on this page for the explanation. - Bill]
If I absolutely had to get the data off these disks myself? If they were program disks, I'd just look for emulator-ready images already on the Web somewhere. If they were personal data disks... well, I'd wish myself luck and then start trying to find a community of vintage hardware enthusiasts. Maybe someone there will know someone who knows someone who already has a serial-cable setup.
Fortunately, there isn't really anything important on these. It's mostly just Apple software and games. If I really wanted to play the games, I'm sure I could find hacked copies of them made for emulators. There were some personal creations like stories I wrote and little computer programs I made. Though I'm pretty sure I still have all of my stories printed out somewhere. I'd like to see the code of my old programs just for the sake of personal nostalgia, but if I can't, no biggie. I may just junk 'em or make a new coaster set.