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The Geeks Who Saved Prince of Persia’s Source Code From Digital Death (wired.com)
115 points by peteforde on Apr 21, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

For those reluctantly remembering that stack of your old floppies and wondering how much of a pain it would be to attempt recovering your data from them...


Am I reading this right that I can take a "standard" 3.5" floppy from a PC, hook it into this board, and it will read my old Amiga formatted disks?? I thought this was impossible to do with modern drives. Anyone know how this gets around all, the crazy hacks Amiga drives could do? I'm not a hardware guy, so I don't fully understand the issue. I just know I have shoeboxes full of unlabeled floppies in the basement that I would love to preserve.

It works because it is itself a floppy controller - it doesn't go through your PC. It has complete control - just like the Amiga did! :)

This is the official site: http://www.kryoflux.com


At first I thought it was something even lower-level (that is, a true magnetic scanner that didn't depend on existing disk drives - there are solutions like that for shattered HD plates and disks, but I'm assuming it's very expensive)

But I don't know much about floppy drives to say what are the limitations of using a standard floppy reader.

Thanks for the pointer to KryoFlux. I've got some old Amiga format disks that came with a vintage digital synth I bought, but no way to access them until now.

A few months ago, I found some C64 5 1/4 inch disks in my Mum's loft. I didn't need "crates of Apple II's", just a 1541 drive from Ebay and a XA1541 cable to connect to my laptop's parallel port.

I worked out a system whereby I'd read a disk, then when the drive head got magnetic filth on it, I'd swab the disk head with isopropyl alcohol.

Anyway, I recovered about 1/2 of the disks with no errors, recovering 4 short stories - thought lost forever - and 52 Boulderdash 4 caves I did with a friend. Also, a sampler/sequencer.

My point is that the C64's 1541 disk drive has its own ROM, so you don't need a C64 to read its disks!

If you want to try recovering the rest, keep in mind the 1541 is notorious for losing head alignment. For 1541's that's been used a lot you can pretty safely assume that it won't be properly aligned, but even if it was, chances are your disks were last written by a 1541 that wasn't perfectly aligned...

Look up how to adjust it, and chances are you'll be able to recover a good chunk of the rest. The "crude" approach is to just manually try adjusting the alignment screw, but there are proper instructions online and software to aid finding the right alignment.

(and the 1541 didn't have just it's own ROM - it has it's own 6502 CPU - it's as powerful as the C64 itself... And you can download programs to it over the serial port)

Have you got the URL of any websites that offer such an alignment tool? Preferably done using PC software and the XA1541 cable.

No, sorry it's been years and years since I had any disks. But there's any number of guides available for doing it "manually" as well. For example (PDF): http://www.classiccmp.org/cini/pdf/re/Tuning%20the%201541%20...

The software tools don't replace manual adjustments - all most of them do is to try to give you some indicator whether you're getting closer or not but you can achieve that simply by attempting to load files and look for / listen for signs the drive is attempting to re-read the same track more or less often as well. Read errors has a pretty characteristic sound on the 1541.

For those of you who don't have a printer port on your PC, try the ZoomFloppy. It's a USB-attached board that connects any Commodore floppy drive to your Windows, Mac, or Linux box.


Key features:

  - Can copy all protected disks, using a cable you install in your 1541
  or without a cable if you have a 1571
  - Supports IEEE-488 (PET drives) with optional connector
  - Also can write back images
Compared to the Kryoflux:

  + No need to make a hardware modification to your drive 
  to copy the back side of floppies
  + Better support for Commodore image formats like G64
  + Write support (although Kryoflux is improving here)
  + Much less expensive
  - Commodore-only, no PC, Mac, Apple II, etc.
Disclaimer: I'm the designer of this device and its firmware, but not the manufacturer. I'm interested in seeing more people use it to rescue old data but do not make any money from it. All firmware and schematics are GPL.

I made quite a few games back on my Amiga with AMOS (and even one in C - though much less advanced). Used to play them with my brothers. This was pre-internet and before I'd even heard of BBS's so only 3 or 4 people ever saw them and no copies exist, unless... I still have several billion floppies in boxes at my parents place and I'd love to trawl through and see what I can dig up. Very tempted to put aside a week later this year and see what I can find.

While I'm sure nothing I created could be compared to Prince of Persia, I cannot be certain :)

Unfortunately though, Github doesn't list AMOS in their languages. Major omission if you ask me...

There's still a decent sized Amiga community online, so if you find anything interesting, the people over at amiga.org, amigaworld.net and eab.abime.net (English Amiga Board) would probably love to hear about it.

The latter is the most creatively oriented, with quite a few people actively interested in archival and recovery "even" of amateur/unfinished stuff.

There's a very popular thread there about PD/freeware games, and they've recovered quite a few previously unreleased or games that were thought lost, and even gotten hold of the source code for quite a bit of it. And there are some AMOS fans there too.

There's bound to be someone there that'd volunteer to help recover the data on your floppies as well, if you need assistance.

This is probably a good place to remind people that any old floppies you have sitting around have almost certainly deteriorated, and that there are people who want to recover and save them for you. http://ascii.textfiles.com/archives/3191

Check out the discussion on Metafilter, especially seanmpuckett's posts about how RW18 squeezed 180% of the normal capacity onto a disk: http://www.metafilter.com/114962/jmp-TRIGSPIKES#4303936

Assuming in 20 years time we're not all wondering what happened to github ...

This is a good point. I do however like to think that with the internet things are a bit different. Look for example at the project to archive Geocities when its end of life was announced. And the internet archive project. When there is simple access to this stuff, those with archivist gene[1] and some interest in the subject have a tendency to keep it available.

[1] a joke gene some of my friends and I deduced, it imparts a deep yearning to collect things, not just collections though, complete, well sorted collections.

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