Looking for computer and individual to read old floppy disks

Fred Cisin cisin at xenosoft.com
Fri Mar 11 15:14:55 CST 2022

On Fri, 11 Mar 2022, Terry Cox-Joseph via cctalk wrote:
> Dear Classic Computers Members,I am looking for someone who had an 
> operating floppy disk drive that can read old 5-1/4" floppy disks from 
> the 1980s.I may also need someone to read hard, 3" floppies. The disks 
> can be mailed and the info can be saved as text and sent via email or to 
> the Cloud.I would need a price estimate, as well. I live in 
> Virginia.
> Thank you in advance.
> Terry Joseph

You might want to include a little more information.

1) Are you trying to make machine readable images that are only for 
storage and later duplication?
OR, do you want to be able to get use of the content of the FILES on them?

Your mention of "sent as text" implies that they are word processing 
files, but 1980s word processors stored their text in files that are 
incomprehensible to "modern" word processors.  Current Microsoft Office 
can no longer handle Wordstar, Electric Pencil, Scripsit, or WordPervert 
files (or many hundreds of others).

2) Which of the [thousands] of disk formats are they?

You should clarify those two questions before you send the disks to 
somebody who can't help you do what YOU want.

In the 1980s, there were several different formats of floppy disks. 
Some estimates are as high as 2500 mutually incompatible formats of floppy 
disks, most of which were 5.25".

IF those are floppy disks from a PC, then there are two common formats 
("360k" and "1.2M"), out of six formats used by IBM, and a PC with a 
"1.2M" drive can easily read five of those.  With some special extra 
software, it can also read the sixth one (IBM PCJX).

Hundreds of the non-PC 5.25" formats can be read on a PC with special 
extra software.
There are some, such as Apple, NorthStar, Vector Graphic, Victor, Sirius, 
that require special extra hardware AND software to read on a PC.

3" floppies were used by the Amstrad, in double sided, single sided, or
"flippy" formats.  The second side of the "flippy" disks can be read by 
flipping it over in a single sided 3" drive, but will require special 
hardware or software to get at if you only have the double sided 3" drive.
3" floppies were also used by Amdek, the most popular being [mutually 
incompatible] Apple and Coco.

But, you are PROBABLY thinking about 3.5" floppies, rather than 3".

In which case, the PC used "720K" and "1.4M" (usually erroneously called 
"1.44M", which was NOT the correct capacity for any rational meaning of 
Apple used "400K"/"800K" (single and double sided), and "1.4M".
Reading the Apple "1.4M" can be easily done on a PC with special extra 
Reading the Apple "400K"/"800K" on a PC requires special extra hardware 
AND special extra software.
Other than those most common ones, there are at least a hundred other 
3.5" formats that will require special extra software, and a rare few, 
such as the Tandy portable drive for model 100/200, etc. that require 
special extra hardware.

Sorry, right now, I do not have convenient access to any of the hardware.

Grumpy Ol' Fred     		cisin at xenosoft.com

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