If you followed this thread, you're both a crazy person and I appreciate
January 25, 2021 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Twitter user @bzotto posts a really long thread about manually retrieving data from a 5.25" floppy disk from the Apple ][ era. Here's a threadreader link. Enjoy the 80s nerdiness!
posted by hippybear (19 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I read ..ok well, "read" is putting it strongly.. "went to the bottom" of the whole thing, after attempting to follow and realizing that was impossible, because I wanted to see the dogs! But as far as I'm concerned @bzotto is some kind of mad wizard and I have no idea how @bzotto figured this all out.
posted by elgee at 9:47 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


This is delightful, and over my head in a lot of the hardware and disk sector specifics, and makes me wistful all over again for the corruption of a 3.5" floppy that contained my middle school magnum opus, a short Hypercard-driven hand-drawn animation of the opening moments of an imagined Alien film I made over the course of a summer.

I also appreciate that one of the racing dogs was apparently named TWENTY BUCKS. Same as in Charlie Brown.
posted by cortex at 10:12 PM on January 25 [3 favorites]


One of my favorite moments in the thread occurs early, in the 4th and 5th tweets:

"But first I needed an old Disk II drive that was in calibration with a sync sensor installed."

"That was its own journey, but once set up, I could use the Applesauce, shown here, with some Mac software"

I feel like I need a twitter thread about that side quest.
posted by hippybear at 10:20 PM on January 25


oh that felt like real computer stuff, bang your head against the desk and crack another mountain dew problems.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:28 PM on January 25 [2 favorites]


for some reason my podunk high school (which acquired a lab of Apple IIes in mid-83) had purchased a copy of just about every Apple II software title out there, including a sector-level disk editor.

I was curious how Sir Tech Software discriminated between scenario disks for Wizardry I vs II, so I made new scenario disks for each and compared the empty disk dumps, and seeing the location where the scenario ID code was stored on disk was obvious enough.

After converting my Scenario disks to Wizardry II-friendly, my characters all had Long Sword +5s instead of Blue Ribbons, since the equipment table was different in Wizardry II.

PCs in the 80s, Internet in the 90s, Mobile in the 00s, DHTML renaissance in the 10s, wonder what the 20s holds for us . . .
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 12:45 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


My compilers course instructor had side hustle as a data recovery guy. He bought every piece of obsoleting hardware he could get his hands on and kept it operational in his garage and specialized in recovering data from obsolete storage media where people could no longer find functioning drives. His side hustle probably made him a lot more money than his full time job. It was probably also way more fun.
posted by srboisvert at 2:22 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


This is charming, thanks for posting! Came for the old computing talk, remained for the dog pictures.

Also, I like "sapling files" (working on a project to do with residential care homes at the moment and nn% of them are named after trees. What is it about trees?).
posted by paduasoy at 3:00 AM on January 26


Now that's my kind of puzzle right there. I really should have gotten into data recovery. It would have been much more rewarding than building a bunch of software projects people paid good money for and then promptly abandoned because reasons.
posted by wierdo at 5:07 AM on January 26


I love how accessible disk storage was in the old days. You can almost see the bits in that sector map disk image.

working on a project to do with residential care homes at the moment and nn% of them are named after trees. What is it about trees?

Trees are familiar, for the most part have easy spelling, can be grouped in several ways (so you can say differentiate between big and small facilities by choosing either deciduous or coniferous trees), the names are inoffensive, and there are lots of them. And very little symbolism/baggage besides. Contrast with for example birds which are also diverse, common names, and groupable but common ones come with baggage just because they have been used as name spaces so often.
posted by Mitheral at 6:52 AM on January 26


Follow this thread? I would gladly read stuff like this all day every day.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:57 AM on January 26


If you enjoyed reading that, you'd probably enjoy the 4am Apple Ⅱ Collection. Each game in it was copy protected, and if you click on a game there is a .txt file that describes, in detail, how that game's copy protection was defeated.
posted by Ampersand692 at 7:07 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


Seconding the 4am cracks commentary, like the one for MicroChess.

To think all of this faffing around happened because Apple were too cheap to buy a drive with control electronics from Shugart.
posted by scruss at 7:45 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


old moe lol
posted by Kwine at 9:18 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


You can almost see the bits in that sector map disk image.

Hey! You actually are seeing the bits in that disk image. The Applesauce project uses modified original Apple disk drive to record the magnetic flux in the disk material. That was the truest way to archive these disks. Some of the images are really beautiful.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:14 AM on January 26


To think all of this faffing around happened because Apple were too cheap to buy a drive with control electronics from Shugart.

The Shugart drives were hella expensive. Jobs had the right idea in making Apple's drive affordable to the masses, it's what propelled the Apple ][ to stardom. The controller is a masterpiece of engineering for the time.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:19 AM on January 26


>Jobs had the right idea in making Apple's drive affordable to the masses

I wasn't there but it's my general impression that Markkulla made all the right strategic moves in the pre-Mac Apple, including putting Woz on the DD project in late '77.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 11:53 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Like elgee, I tried to read and made it to the bottom. I posted it on FB and tagged my brother who is a software engineer who grew up with an Apple IIc.
posted by kathrynm at 5:52 PM on January 26


This is semi-fascinating (and altogether interesting), as I am learning Apple II via emulation, never having owned an Apple II (I was a Commodore 64 guy back in the day). This taught me more about ProDos than I will probably ever need to know. Thanks, hippybear!
posted by lhauser at 7:03 PM on January 26


in making Apple's drive affordable to the masses, it's what propelled the Apple ][ to stardom

Affordable? Apples were never affordable. They cost the same as a car in the USA. Outside the USA, they weren't particularly big sellers. The controller's only genius if you're okay using all the CPU cycles for I/O and keeping all the cost savings for your own profit.
posted by scruss at 6:14 AM on January 27


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