floppy disks?

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floppy disks?

rikona
I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk archives.
Running Ubuntu 16.04 updated but thinking of upgrading. Can I buy and
use a USB floppy disk drive to read these disks on a plug and go basis?
If so, do I have to buy certain drives to work well with Ubuntu?

Will I have to download any software to do this, or perhaps do this in a
better way? Some may be early floppies and have lower density - might
these not be readable by what is now recognized by Ubuntu? Also, will
newer or older versions of Ubuntu have more/less/the same capability
for old floppies?

Even worse, I also have some 8-inch floppies from ancient CPM days. Is
there any way to read such floppies now?

I guess what I needed to do was to transfer files every time a new
generation of storage came out. Archives are not really archives
if there's no way to read them. :-((

Any info much appreciated.


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Re: floppy disks?

Dave Stevens
On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 16:12:50 -0800
rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk archives.

how big are the floppies?

d

--
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Re: floppy disks?

drew einhorn
In reply to this post by rikona
Depends on how old they are.
Very old ones were 8".
Then, there were 5.25" floppies .
Then there 3.5" ones.
What vintage do you have?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_floppy_disk

Look for an ancient desktop that can read the floppies in grandma and grandpa's attic. Then, you have to get the data from the ancient desktop to a modern computer.

Or, look for a media conversion shop.

Recovering data from an extinct platform can be very challenging.

Is the data worth the trouble?

And, the media may have decayed over the decades.

At least it's not on punched cards or paper tape.

On March 8, 2019, at 5:30 PM, Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:

On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 16:12:50 -0800
rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk archives.

how big are the floppies?

d

--
In modern fantasy (literary or governmental), killing people is the
usual solution to the so-called war between good and evil. My books are
not conceived in terms of such a war, and offer no simple answers to
simplistic questions.

----- Ursula Le Guin

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Re: floppy disks?

Keith-6
In reply to this post by rikona
If you are asking about a 3.5 inch floppy then a USB 3.5 inch drive will
work in Linux.

You can use MS-DOS tools to read the floppy:

<http://www.yolinux.com/TUTORIALS/LinuxTutorialUsingDOSFloppies.html>

8 inch floppy discussion:

<http://www.retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/s_drives_howto.html>


On 3/8/19 4:12 PM, rikona wrote:

> I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk archives.
> Running Ubuntu 16.04 updated but thinking of upgrading. Can I buy and
> use a USB floppy disk drive to read these disks on a plug and go basis?
> If so, do I have to buy certain drives to work well with Ubuntu?
>
> Will I have to download any software to do this, or perhaps do this in a
> better way? Some may be early floppies and have lower density - might
> these not be readable by what is now recognized by Ubuntu? Also, will
> newer or older versions of Ubuntu have more/less/the same capability
> for old floppies?
>
> Even worse, I also have some 8-inch floppies from ancient CPM days. Is
> there any way to read such floppies now?
>
> I guess what I needed to do was to transfer files every time a new
> generation of storage came out. Archives are not really archives
> if there's no way to read them. :-((
>
> Any info much appreciated.
>
>

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Re: floppy disks?

Karl Auer
In reply to this post by rikona
On Fri, 2019-03-08 at 16:12 -0800, rikona wrote:
> I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk archives.
> Running Ubuntu 16.04 updated but thinking of upgrading. Can I buy and
> use a USB floppy disk drive to read these disks on a plug and go
> basis?

Yes. However, data on magnetic storage is quite vulnerable, and the
physical medium is not that tough either; if they have not been stored
well, you may find disk errors.

> If so, do I have to buy certain drives to work well with Ubuntu?

Any USB floppy disk drive will work fine.

> Will I have to download any software to do this, or perhaps do this
> in a better way?

The Linux drivers should still work fine.

>  Some may be early floppies and have lower density - might these not
> be readable by what is now recognized by Ubuntu? Also, will newer or
> older versions of Ubuntu have more/less/the same capability for old
> floppies?

Different storage densities can present problems; in general the higher
the density the more likely you'll have issues, because the tracks are
narrower and they are more vulnerable to differences between drives.
Genarally speaking, a high-density drive can read lower density disks.

> Even worse, I also have some 8-inch floppies from ancient CPM days.
> Is there any way to read such floppies now?

You might be able to find someone still selling such drives. The big
problem will be physically connecting such a drive to your computer -
these drives dies out before USB existed. Don't buy a drive without a
controller, and make sure you have a system the controller can go into.
I think a storage/recovery specialist would be your best bet. Make sure
you have a fixed-price quote or set an upper limit on the time they can
spend on your project. They may require payment to produce a
quote/estimate.

With 8" floppies and to a lesser extent 5.25" floppies, there was a
plethora of different formats used to write data. Even with a
controller and a drive, the format may still be a hurdle.

This page has some info, might be  good starting point:

http://www.retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/s_drives_howto.html

Regards, K.

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Re: floppy disks?

Dave Stevens
On Sat, 09 Mar 2019 13:12:33 +1100
Karl Auer <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Even worse, I also have some 8-inch floppies from ancient CPM days.
> > Is there any way to read such floppies now?  

for what it's worth, I suggest trying to find surviving S-100 bus
users, of whom there are still a few. 8" was the ordinary diskette size
at the time.

d


--
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usual solution to the so-called war between good and evil. My books are
not conceived in terms of such a war, and offer no simple answers to
simplistic questions.

----- Ursula Le Guin

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Re: floppy disks?

Robert Heller
In reply to this post by drew einhorn
At Fri, 08 Mar 2019 18:01:55 -0700 "Ubuntu user technical support,  not for general discussions" <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> Depends on how old they are.
> Very old ones were 8".

These were every on early CP/M (and some other machines, like VAX-11/780s).

> Then, there were 5.25" floppies .

Early "PC"s had 5.25".

> Then there 3.5" ones.

Early Macs started with 3.5" and eventually "PC"s moved to 3.5"

There were also various densities and capacities...

> What vintage do you have?
>
> https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_floppy_disk
>
> Look for an ancient desktop that can read the floppies in grandma and grandpa's attic. Then, you have to get the data from the ancient desktop to a modern computer.
>
> Or, look for a media conversion shop.
>
> Recovering data from an extinct platform can be very challenging.
>
> Is the data worth the trouble?
>
> And, the media may have decayed over the decades.
>
> At least it's not on punched cards or paper tape.
>
> On March 8, 2019, at 5:30 PM, Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 16:12:50 -0800
> rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk archives.
>
> how big are the floppies?
>
> d
>

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Re: floppy disks?

rikona
In reply to this post by Dave Stevens
On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 16:28:36 -0800
Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 16:12:50 -0800
> rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk
> > archives.  
>
> how big are the floppies?

The oldest PC ones are 5.25 and the later ones are 3.5, so I have both
sizes.

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Re: floppy disks?

rikona
In reply to this post by drew einhorn
On Fri, 08 Mar 2019 18:01:55 -0700
Drew Einhorn <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Depends on how old they are.
> Very old ones were 8".
> Then, there were 5.25" floppies .
> Then there 3.5" ones.
> What vintage do you have?

All of the above, but 8" were CPM files, not PC.

>
> https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_floppy_disk
>
> Look for an ancient desktop that can read the floppies in grandma and
> grandpa's attic. Then, you have to get the data from the ancient
> desktop to a modern computer.
>
> Or, look for a media conversion shop.
>
> Recovering data from an extinct platform can be very challenging.
>
> Is the data worth the trouble?
>
> And, the media may have decayed over the decades.
>
> At least it's not on punched cards or paper tape.
>
> On March 8, 2019, at 5:30 PM, Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 16:12:50 -0800
> rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk
> > archives.  
>
> how big are the floppies?
>
> d
>


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Re: floppy disks?

rikona
In reply to this post by Keith-6
On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 17:18:11 -0800
Keith <[hidden email]> wrote:

> If you are asking about a 3.5 inch floppy then a USB 3.5 inch drive
> will work in Linux.

The older ones are 5.25 - may be harder...

> You can use MS-DOS tools to read the floppy:
>
> <http://www.yolinux.com/TUTORIALS/LinuxTutorialUsingDOSFloppies.html>
>
> 8 inch floppy discussion:
>
> <http://www.retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/s_drives_howto.html>

Nice ref - thanks! Looks like this is a hard problem for 5.25 & very
hard for 8 inch disks.

>
> On 3/8/19 4:12 PM, rikona wrote:
> > I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk archives.
> > Running Ubuntu 16.04 updated but thinking of upgrading. Can I buy
> > and use a USB floppy disk drive to read these disks on a plug and
> > go basis? If so, do I have to buy certain drives to work well with
> > Ubuntu?
> >
> > Will I have to download any software to do this, or perhaps do this
> > in a better way? Some may be early floppies and have lower density
> > - might these not be readable by what is now recognized by Ubuntu?
> > Also, will newer or older versions of Ubuntu have more/less/the
> > same capability for old floppies?
> >
> > Even worse, I also have some 8-inch floppies from ancient CPM days.
> > Is there any way to read such floppies now?
> >
> > I guess what I needed to do was to transfer files every time a new
> > generation of storage came out. Archives are not really archives
> > if there's no way to read them. :-((
> >
> > Any info much appreciated.
> >
> >  
>


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Re: floppy disks?

rikona
In reply to this post by Karl Auer
On Sat, 09 Mar 2019 13:12:33 +1100
Karl Auer <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Fri, 2019-03-08 at 16:12 -0800, rikona wrote:
> > I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk archives.
> > Running Ubuntu 16.04 updated but thinking of upgrading. Can I buy
> > and use a USB floppy disk drive to read these disks on a plug and go
> > basis?  
>
> Yes. However, data on magnetic storage is quite vulnerable, and the
> physical medium is not that tough either; if they have not been stored
> well, you may find disk errors.
>
> > If so, do I have to buy certain drives to work well with Ubuntu?  
>
> Any USB floppy disk drive will work fine.
>
> > Will I have to download any software to do this, or perhaps do this
> > in a better way?  
>
> The Linux drivers should still work fine.
>
> >  Some may be early floppies and have lower density - might these not
> > be readable by what is now recognized by Ubuntu? Also, will newer or
> > older versions of Ubuntu have more/less/the same capability for old
> > floppies?  
>
> Different storage densities can present problems; in general the
> higher the density the more likely you'll have issues, because the
> tracks are narrower and they are more vulnerable to differences
> between drives. Genarally speaking, a high-density drive can read
> lower density disks.
>
> > Even worse, I also have some 8-inch floppies from ancient CPM days.
> > Is there any way to read such floppies now?  
>
> You might be able to find someone still selling such drives. The big
> problem will be physically connecting such a drive to your computer -
> these drives dies out before USB existed. Don't buy a drive without a
> controller, and make sure you have a system the controller can go
> into. I think a storage/recovery specialist would be your best bet.
> Make sure you have a fixed-price quote or set an upper limit on the
> time they can spend on your project. They may require payment to
> produce a quote/estimate.
>
> With 8" floppies and to a lesser extent 5.25" floppies, there was a
> plethora of different formats used to write data. Even with a
> controller and a drive, the format may still be a hurdle.
>
> This page has some info, might be  good starting point:
>
> http://www.retrotechnology.com/herbs_stuff/s_drives_howto.html

Good site. Looks like the really old stuff [non 3.5] will be quite hard
to do.

>
> Regards, K.
>


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Re: floppy disks?

rikona
In reply to this post by Dave Stevens
On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 18:54:40 -0800
Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Sat, 09 Mar 2019 13:12:33 +1100
> Karl Auer <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > Even worse, I also have some 8-inch floppies from ancient CPM
> > days.  
> > > Is there any way to read such floppies now?    
>
> for what it's worth, I suggest trying to find surviving S-100 bus
> users, of whom there are still a few. 8" was the ordinary diskette
> size at the time.

From what I've seen in one of the refs, that may be the only solution,
assuming they can read MY disk format [there were apparently quite a
few].

Thanks


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Re: floppy disks?

Dave Stevens
In reply to this post by rikona
On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 22:40:46 -0800
rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:

> The older ones are 5.25 - may be harder...

I have 5.25" drives on my parts shelf, several if I remember correctly,
I don't suppose I'm the only one.

D


--
In modern fantasy (literary or governmental), killing people is the
usual solution to the so-called war between good and evil. My books are
not conceived in terms of such a war, and offer no simple answers to
simplistic questions.

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Re: floppy disks?

rikona
In reply to this post by drew einhorn
On Fri, 08 Mar 2019 18:01:55 -0700
Drew Einhorn <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Look for an ancient desktop that can read the floppies in grandma and
> grandpa's attic. Then, you have to get the data from the ancient
> desktop to a modern computer.

This is beginning to sound like the best approach for the 5.25s. Would
be interesting to find an 8" in some attic - ebay lists some of
the CPM machines for thousands of dollars. :-)

> Or, look for a media conversion shop.
>
> Recovering data from an extinct platform can be very challenging.
>
> Is the data worth the trouble?

It is worth some trouble but not a huge amount.
>
> And, the media may have decayed over the decades.
>
> At least it's not on punched cards or paper tape.

Some of my oldest data might be on paper tape. My oldest CPM ran from a
teletype machine - very advanced at the time. :-)) Not likely I will
need to access that very ancient and limited data though.

>
> On March 8, 2019, at 5:30 PM, Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 16:12:50 -0800
> rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > I need to get some files from some VERY old MS floppy disk
> > archives.  
>
> how big are the floppies?
>
> d
>


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Re: floppy disks?

rikona
In reply to this post by Dave Stevens
On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 22:49:53 -0800
Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 22:40:46 -0800
> rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > The older ones are 5.25 - may be harder...  
>
> I have 5.25" drives on my parts shelf, several if I remember
> correctly, I don't suppose I'm the only one.

I never thought I'd use the ones I had in older comps so didn't
remove/store them. Fair chance I could find one where I live, but most
likely will be in an old PC. :-) If so, I'll just use the old PC. IIRC
there may be IDE card issues I might have to deal with in my Ubuntu
box. Not sure I want a semipermanent install on that box.

I found a new 5.25" drive online - for $180, with the note: "It can be
difficult or impossible to install these drives in a modern
computer." :-))


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Re: floppy disks?

Dave Stevens
On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 23:14:51 -0800
rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 22:49:53 -0800
> Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 22:40:46 -0800
> > rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >  
> > > The older ones are 5.25 - may be harder...    
> >
> > I have 5.25" drives on my parts shelf, several if I remember
> > correctly, I don't suppose I'm the only one.  
>
> I never thought I'd use the ones I had in older comps so didn't
> remove/store them. Fair chance I could find one where I live, but most
> likely will be in an old PC. :-) If so, I'll just use the old PC. IIRC
> there may be IDE card issues I might have to deal with in my Ubuntu
> box. Not sure I want a semipermanent install on that box.
>
> I found a new 5.25" drive online - for $180, with the note: "It can be
> difficult or impossible to install these drives in a modern
> computer." :-))

so if you get that far you'll be able to read a 5.25" diskette, then
what? The same old machine is not likely to have a usb socket or know
what to do about FAT32, maybe look for a dial-up modem? and so on,
you may have to reproduce the stages of storage access in the
intervening years. Perhaps 5.25" to 3.5" and then a more recent Linux
will have good support for old filesystems.

d

>
>


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Re: floppy disks?

Robert Heller
At Sat, 9 Mar 2019 08:21:15 -0800 "Ubuntu user technical support,  not for general discussions" <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 23:14:51 -0800
> rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 22:49:53 -0800
> > Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >
> > > On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 22:40:46 -0800
> > > rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > >  
> > > > The older ones are 5.25 - may be harder...    
> > >
> > > I have 5.25" drives on my parts shelf, several if I remember
> > > correctly, I don't suppose I'm the only one.  
> >
> > I never thought I'd use the ones I had in older comps so didn't
> > remove/store them. Fair chance I could find one where I live, but most
> > likely will be in an old PC. :-) If so, I'll just use the old PC. IIRC
> > there may be IDE card issues I might have to deal with in my Ubuntu
> > box. Not sure I want a semipermanent install on that box.
> >
> > I found a new 5.25" drive online - for $180, with the note: "It can be
> > difficult or impossible to install these drives in a modern
> > computer." :-))
>
> so if you get that far you'll be able to read a 5.25" diskette, then
> what? The same old machine is not likely to have a usb socket or know
> what to do about FAT32, maybe look for a dial-up modem? and so on,
> you may have to reproduce the stages of storage access in the
> intervening years. Perhaps 5.25" to 3.5" and then a more recent Linux
> will have good support for old filesystems.

Note: the floppy *controller* and the connector on the motherboard for  5.25"
and  3.5" floppies are the same.  (The drive end connectors are different.).

It is possible to get a 10BaseT (at least) Ethernet card for any really old
computers, so it will be possible to connect it to a LAN.

Many *not too recent* (last 10 years or so) motherboards do have a floppy
interface on the motherboard, even if there is no actual drive mounted. Worst
case, would be to take the case cover off and have the floppy drive hanging by
its cables. If you have an "older" but not too old machine -- sort of between
the start if USB and the final end of motherboards supporting floppies you
might be able to transfer the data to a USB thumb drive. You might be
supprised as to how many very recent motherboards do have a floppy header
connector on them.  Many have IDE connectors too.
>
> d
>
> >
> >
>
>

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Re: floppy disks?

rikona
On Sat,  9 Mar 2019 11:58:31 -0500 (EST)
Robert Heller <[hidden email]> wrote:

> At Sat, 9 Mar 2019 08:21:15 -0800 "Ubuntu user technical support,
> not for general discussions" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> >
> > On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 23:14:51 -0800
> > rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
> >  
> > > On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 22:49:53 -0800
> > > Dave Stevens <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > >  
> > > > On Fri, 8 Mar 2019 22:40:46 -0800
> > > > rikona <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > > >    
> > > > > The older ones are 5.25 - may be harder...      
> > > >
> > > > I have 5.25" drives on my parts shelf, several if I remember
> > > > correctly, I don't suppose I'm the only one.    
> > >
> > > I never thought I'd use the ones I had in older comps so didn't
> > > remove/store them. Fair chance I could find one where I live, but
> > > most likely will be in an old PC. :-) If so, I'll just use the
> > > old PC. IIRC there may be IDE card issues I might have to deal
> > > with in my Ubuntu box. Not sure I want a semipermanent install on
> > > that box.
> > >
> > > I found a new 5.25" drive online - for $180, with the note: "It
> > > can be difficult or impossible to install these drives in a modern
> > > computer." :-))  
> >
> > so if you get that far you'll be able to read a 5.25" diskette, then
> > what? The same old machine is not likely to have a usb socket or
> > know what to do about FAT32, maybe look for a dial-up modem? and so
> > on, you may have to reproduce the stages of storage access in the
> > intervening years. Perhaps 5.25" to 3.5" and then a more recent
> > Linux will have good support for old filesystems.  
>
> Note: the floppy *controller* and the connector on the motherboard
> for  5.25" and  3.5" floppies are the same.  (The drive end
> connectors are different.).
>
> It is possible to get a 10BaseT (at least) Ethernet card for any
> really old computers, so it will be possible to connect it to a LAN.
>
> Many *not too recent* (last 10 years or so) motherboards do have a
> floppy interface on the motherboard, even if there is no actual drive
> mounted. Worst case, would be to take the case cover off and have the
> floppy drive hanging by its cables. If you have an "older" but not
> too old machine -- sort of between the start if USB and the final end
> of motherboards supporting floppies you might be able to transfer the
> data to a USB thumb drive. You might be supprised as to how many very
> recent motherboards do have a floppy header connector on them.  Many
> have IDE connectors too.

What you have described is just what I would be hoping for. Reading the
above reminds me that I have, in the past, given some old computers to
a lady who recycles them for poor students. She's very good at juggling
parts to make old stuff work, and may even have something I could use
for a while. Sounds like the old box route is the best way to go.

I'd like to thank all of you for your comments and suggestions. This
has been quite helpful.








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Re: floppy disks?

ubuntu-users mailing list
In reply to this post by Dave Stevens
09 March 2019  at 8:21, Dave Stevens wrote:
Re: floppy disks? (at least in part)

>so if you get that far you'll be able to read a 5.25" diskette, then
>what? The same old machine is not likely to have a usb socket or know
>what to do about FAT32, maybe look for a dial-up modem? and so on,
>you may have to reproduce the stages of storage access in the
>intervening years. Perhaps 5.25" to 3.5" and then a more recent Linux
>will have good support for old filesystems.

I have a few PC's that still have 3.5" floppies, and I also have a couple of
ribbon cables that have 2 x both types of header so if I can find my old 5.25"
drive I could test, these same PC's do have USB, (Win95c supported USB) as for
Fat32 that came with Win98se (for home use anyway), and "if" the OP's box is
missing a USB maybe a PCI USB card would do

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Re: floppy disks?

Peter Flynn
In reply to this post by Dave Stevens
On 09/03/2019 02:54, Dave Stevens wrote:
> On Sat, 09 Mar 2019 13:12:33 +1100
> Karl Auer <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Even worse, I also have some 8-inch floppies from ancient CPM days.
>>> Is there any way to read such floppies now?
>
> for what it's worth, I suggest trying to find surviving S-100 bus
> users, of whom there are still a few. 8" was the ordinary diskette size
> at the time.

DEC VAX computers (the big IT Centre ones, not the pizza-box ones) used
to boot from 8" floppies, and there are still some places running them,
so you could find one and see if they can read it. I think there was a
command to read CP/M format.

///Peter

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