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Backing Up DD Floppies

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I was asked by my manager to download data from multiple boxes full of floppy disks he used in the early 90s. I’m used to people at work asking me for help with old UNIX systems, but reading 5.25-inch floppies is here for the first time. He used to be a musician when he lived in Israel and used his 386 PC as a sequencer with an E-mu Proteus/1 external wavetable synthesizer.

I picked my Vienna 286 computer to read the floppies. It’s quite a high spec machine with an 8MHz CPU, math coprocessor, Hercules-compatible Graphics and 1.5meg ISA RAM card… and it’s my only computer with a 5.25-inch drive. If you ask why I removed the CRT before I started copying the files, ugly mold smell goes from it every time it’s turned on and I hate it. I rather configured the machine to work in a headless mode (straight boot into Microsoft InterLink Server) and accessed the drives from a laptop over a null-modem cable.

Toshiba T1200XE (1990)

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T1200XE belongs to the first generation of Toshiba portables equipped with 2.5-inch hard drives which allowed to make the machines smaller and lighter (3.6 kg). It has 12-MHz 80C286, at least 1 MB RAM (up to 5 MB) and a gorgeous 9,3-inch sidelit blue-and-white LCD. This LCD has a resolution of 640×400 and it is combined with a graphics chip that can utilize the full resolution for text and graphics (32 kB of video RAM).

“Grayscale” in 320×200 is emulated using 1-bit 2×2 patterns so the picture looks more like on Hercules cards emulating CGA. On the other side the screen is very sharp and blue text and backgrounds look cool.