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The Last of the 5″ Floppies

TP3Floppy325Wide.jpgThe AC works again, though now that it does, the hot spell has broken and we don’t really need it. (Love that 72 degree stuff!) However, Carol and I have some cleanup to do, as the air handler made a honking puddle on the furnace room floor downstairs, soaking the bottoms of a number of boxes. Some of those contained Christmas stuff, including my old Lionel trains. More intriguing, another, smaller, box contained a stash of 5 1/4″ floppies from the late 1980s and early 1990s. I went through it to see if there were any old backups to be destroyed (there were none) but the commercial software lineup in the box is pretty impressive:

  • Turbo Pascal 2.0 (includig Turbo 87), 3.0, 4.0, 5.0, and 5.5
  • Turbo Pascal for Windows
  • Mystic Pascal
  • QuickPascal 1.0
  • TopSpeed Modula 2
  • TopSpeed C
  • Stony Brook Modula 2
  • Smalltalk/V286
  • Turbo Basic
  • Quick C
  • Reflex 1.0 and 2.0
  • Turbo Lightning
  • Paradox 2
  • WordStar 3.02
  • MS Word 6.0

…and lots of additional stuff from Borland and other companies, most long gone. Falk Data Systems; Software Science, Inc; Digitalk; Adapta Software, and on and on and on.

The box is toast, and I’m thinking that most or all of the disks have long since become unreadable. Still, it would be interesting to see how true that is. I checked my Paradox 4.0 3 1/2″ floppies from 1993 just now and they still read, so I suppose it’s possible. Alas, I haven’t had a 5 1/4″ floppy drive in the house in years. I’ll be going up to OEM Parts later this week to gather a few things to replenish my parts drawers, and I’ll bet they have a drive on the greasy old crap table. I’ve even got a working machine in the to-be-recycled pile with an open front bay to put it in.

I know, I know–bad use of my time. But at very least I’m going to rejoin the Turbo Pascal 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 floppies with the manuals, which are still on the top here in my office. I’m sure I can part with the rest. Those, well…in a very real sense they helped pay for the house we’re now living in, so I’ll add them to my memoirs archive. And just in case they do read…I can bring up a DOS VM in ninety seconds flat!


  1. Erbo says:

    There is a widget out there that will let you hook up a 5-1/4″ drive to USB. You do have to supply your own drive, as well as power for it, and it’s read-only, but if you need to pull in info from old 5-1/4″ disks, this would do it. It also reads other old micro formats, like Apple II, Commodore 1541, and TI-99/4A.

  2. Tom R. says:

    I have one of those same disks somewhere in my basement too! Along with many of the others you mentioned, and a lot you didn’t However, I do have an old Pentium 90 with a working 5″ LOW DENSITY drive and another computer with a working 5″ high density drive. Haven’t used either in years, but they are a comfort in my old age!

    I learned the hard way to use the plastic tubs with lids as my storage containers on the basement wall in common with the laundry room and water heater. I use cardboard boxes in the stack above that since I figure that if the water gets that high I will have other major problems! All of my “basement” is above ground level anyway and we are NOT in a flood area.

  3. MGalloway says:

    I have a box of old 5 1/4″ disks lying around, too, but they are for the Apple II. There is some old writing material on those disks that I’m curious about (along with some old software I wrote). Although they are from the mid 80’s, I would guess they are still readable. The widget Erbo mentioned looks like a great idea…

    1. I’d really like to know how that works, if you do actually get one and give it a shot. I’m wondering if you’re going to have file system issues. All the old floppies I have here are FAT, which modern Windows systems still understand. What Apple used I have no idea, but I assume you don’t still have the machine on the shelf.

      1. Erbo says:

        Apparently, the FC5025 I linked to comes with software that can do an image copy of any disk format it understands (suitable for use with an emulator, for instance), and, for at least some formats, can list and extract individual files. I’m thinking Apple II disks would be supported for that, since the Apple II disk format layout (DOS 3.3/ProDOS) was well documented. I don’t think you’re going to have an Apple II floppy mounted as drive B: under Windows, though…

        1. MGalloway says:

          I’m not sure what the right answer is for my situation. I’ve thought about grabbing a cheap/used system off eBay at times. I’ve also seen several examples of old Apple software converted into the .shk (ShrinkIt) file format for use inside an Apple II emulator (such as AppleWin). I’m not sure how they do that. Who knows, I may be able to revive my software/data files and let them live on inside that environment, which would be kind of ironic…especially considering some of the software was written in Applesoft BASIC and 6502 assembly.

          @ Jeff: You’re right…I don’t have my Apple IIc system anymore. I still miss it a lot, though.

  4. Lee Hart says:

    There’s some neat stuff there, Jeff. Don’t throw it out! I have a working antique PC that can read and probably even run much of this software. It’s a Zenith Z-157 “XT”, with its 8 MHz 8088 CPU 640k RAM, 20meg hard drive, 5.25″ 360k floppy, and 3.5″ 720k floppy. Amazingly, I still use it occasionally. Would you like me to copy the disks onto new floppies for you, or at least scandisk them to see if they are readable?

    1. As best I can tell, all the floppies in the box are the 1.2MB format. Your machine as described probably won’t read those, but I appreciate the offer. If OEM parts has an old drive in their greasy computer crap pile, I may be able to read them by tomorrow.

      1. Lee Hart says:

        OK; that’s good. 1.2meg drives, and computers that will support them are easier to come by. It’s the 360k drives that I can’t get to work on any modern PC!

        1. Don’t I wish. See my September 2 entry.

  5. […] a quick update on the vintage 5″ floppy project: I bought a half-height Teac 1.2 MB floppy drive at OEM Parts earlier this afternoon, since I was […]

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