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Some years ago, I went through a tedious process of moving all the data I had on my mid-80s Compaq Deskpro Portable to a slightly-less-antique IBM AT, using 5.25 inch floppies. Then I migrated the data from my AT to a still-newer PC using 3.5 inch floppies. From there it was a simple matter of burning the data onto a CD to migrate to my then-current PC - which, in turn, I backed up and copied over to my now-current PC when I replaced it.

The upshot is that I still have all the files I created a quarter of a century ago.

I did the same with my Amigas about 5 years ago, which was more complicated than your process (I had to make a cable and buy a USB-to-RS232 adapter since modern PCs don't have serial ports). A few of the floppies were unreadable, particularly the ones where I'd used one of the non-standard formats that packed more data onto the disk and performed faster, but I was mostly able to pull everything off, and the hard disks were fine. I have a directory on my Linux box of the old Amiga stuff, and can play the mods I wrote, and poke around at some of the stuff I wrote, including the first book I ever wrote (which was an interactive Jazz improvisation course in AmigaText), and such.

Honestly, though, other than the music, I didn't find much worth keeping. Pirated games, 8-bit porn, etc. Though, it did remind me of the name of my favorite old synthesis tool (RGS), so I was able to look it up and do some research on modern alternatives...which it turns out there aren't really any, unfortunately. I'd carried on a conversation with the developer when he announced no further development, and wish I still had the notes, as he'd included quite a bit of technical details about the way it works (though it's mostly obvious now that I'm more knowledgeable; FFT over time for the generation of images, adding sine waves for the other direction). But, I've never gotten around to trying to reproduce it.

Interestingly, those ancient machines (a 2000 and 3000, both with hard disk controllers and hard disks; an AD516 sound card; and some other formerly very expensive hardware), and a pile of random Amiga junk and magazines, sold for $300. Given that PC stuff from that era would bring nothing, I'd say the resale value of Amigas has held up shockingly well. Collector value, I suppose. Even weirder, I guess, I bought a Commodore 64 after getting rid of the Amigas.

I have probably hundreds of DeluxePaint animations from the mid-90s distributed across a handful of floppy disks and a couple of A1200 hard drives (from when I wanted to be a video game artist, of course!). I've wondered before how I might ever go about recovering them, if indeed they are recoverable. Any instructions you'd recommend?

I tried several options, and finally settled on the Amiga Forever bundle, which includes software for transferring things which actually worked. It's been years, now, and I don't remember all the details...I just remember hacking together a cable, buying a USB-to-RS232 adapter on ebay, being frustrated for a week or so trying various bits and pieces from source, and then buying Amiga Forever, and things just magically came together and started working.

It wasn't as easy as I'd hoped it would be, and it wasn't as easy as it would have been had I done it when I first moved to PC. Since transfer utilities and hardware were commonplace back then.

For floppy disks:


Unfortunately a lot of the solutions for Amiga <-> PC conversion no longer work on modern PCs (i.e requiring old versions of windows, isa slots, etc).

The hard drive is easy, you can just plug it into your PC and mount it under linux (using the affs filesystem). If your a windows users I think WinUAE might be able to mount it but I don't know.

Hard drives on the Amiga were usually SCSI. Specifically, the very old SCSI interface, which has never been widely available in PCI cards.

This was my problem with the "just plug it into your PC" process. So, I ended up needing to connect the machines via serial and transferring the the Amiga Forever tool.

But, I guess if you had IDE disks, that'd be easier...though the old IDE standard plugs are also dinosaurs at this point. Not as hard to find as old school SCSI, but still not certain to be available. I happened to have a vast hardware closet from running a hardware business for several years...but even that was insufficient.


A600, A1200 and A4000 all had internal IDE interfaces. The A3000 had a SCSI interface. All other Amiga models had to use add-on HDD interfaces, which started SCSI because that was the dominant platform and shifted more to IDE over time.

So, I'm not sure I'd agree that SCSI was more popular on Amigas over time.

Fun times. When I was in high school, a friend of mine ran a BBS from his Commodore 128.

Yep; same here. I'm 33 now, and I'm unreasonably proud to say that I still have essentially every file I ever created, going back to hundreds of Bank Street Writer and KoalaPaint files created on my Commodore 64 in the mid-1980s.

You're just ahead of your time. Fortunately, with the way computing seems to be heading, one day we all will be able to say we still have every file (document, image, etc) we ever created.

Oh, I think it remains to be seen whether cloud computing will make the problem better or worse. If all of our data is eventually consolidated with a few very large companies who do a good job of preserving it and keeping it accessible to us, then that may be an improvement.

But keep in mind that these companies are not in the archival business. Fresh data is a lot more valuable to them than old stuff. Yes, Google scans old books and whatnot but that's a tiny amount of data compared to everyone's digital junk heap that they accumulate over a lifetime.

If I consider everything I've ever written on the internet to be my "files" then I've already lost a great deal of it just because I can't keep track of where it all is, let alone whether it's still online at all.

He might have meant the cheapness of storage and I sure hope he did. I could have kept incremental backups of all my digital creations in the last 20 years and it would not be 1 terabyte.

I don't know. Modern people also create a lot more files than back in the floppy days. Many files are created to be consumed over short period of time, and probably discarded when they become inconvenient.

All I need is a Volkswriter emulator and I can re-read those senior public and early high school essays again. :)

I migrated my Apple ][ disks in the early 90's. There weren't any migration utilities available (or I just didn't know which BBS to call, maybe) so I had to write my own disk-reader-to-serial on the Apple side and the appropriate conversion routines on the PC side. Fun times.

A couple of years ago I was moving and decided to do something with the shoeboxes full of 5.25" and 3.5" disks I had sitting in my attic.

I couldn't bear just to pitch them so feeling nostalgic I resurrected an old PC (also in the attic) with a 3.5" drive and I was able to read about 50% of them including one that had my Programming Languages class assignments from 1990 (a Lisp REPL with macros written in Pascal and a pretty printer for Modula-2 code). The other disks I cared about where unreadable even after using the freezer trick on them.

Where are they now? The working ones are in a shoebox in my attic in my new house. I'll probably check on them again in 10 years.

btw, if you need a copy of Turbo Pascal 3.0 just let me know...

You can get Turbo Pascal 5.5 off Embarcadero's (formerly Borland's) website: http://edn.embarcadero.com/article/20803

Of course, Free Pascal is a better modern alternative.

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