Retrieve files from Macintosh Plus disks

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by TzuZen, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. TzuZen macrumors newbie

    TzuZen

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2019
    #1
    I had an old Macintosh Plus that croaked and died in the late 90s. I have my old thesis files on disks still. I want to pull the files off the disks before they deteriorate further - I would have done that years ago yet the tools in the late 90s aren’t what they are today.

    I gave in and am mostly a PC user and use an iPad and iPhone.

    I’ve been strolling around the web looking for options to get the files off the old disks. I’m frustrated. So here I am.

    Anyone done this or have suggestions on hardware that might help? Specifically, are there external drives that could be attached to a PC or an Apple product to get the files? I’d be willing to buy a drive for that purpose. How long did Apple continue to use drives that were compatible with those disks?

    And the Macintosh Plus is long gone. I think the power supply is what crapped out on it. Still, it’s long gone.

    Thanks for your help. I appreciate it.
     
  2. Kcetech1 macrumors regular

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    Nov 24, 2016
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    Alberta Canada
  3. Longkeg macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2014
    Location:
    S. Florida
    #3
    Any modern Mac should still be able to understand data on disks that were formatted to run on your old Mac. Your problem is one of hardware. You've got to find a device that can read 28 year old disks yet can connect to a modern Mac. I think I know the kinds of disk you're talking about but it would be helpful if you could be as specific as possible as to size and capacity. With that knowledge you can look for some sort of external (USB) reader. I've no idea if such a thing exists but you never know... Good luck.
     
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #4
    Are there any 3rd-party (i.e., not an "Apple Store") computer repair shops in your area that work with Macs?
    They might have an older (non-intel) Mac with a floppy drive and an OS old enough to read those old discs.

    Do you have any kind of "computer club" (Mac or otherwise) in your area?
    Someone might have an old, working Mac.
     
  5. Longkeg macrumors regular

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    Jul 18, 2014
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    S. Florida
    #5
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #6
    I don't believe a drive like the one in reply 5 above will be able to read OLD Mac 400k disks which may be in MFS or HFS (not HFS+) format.

    I'm almost certain that you need a MAC-SPECIFIC drive with which to do this.
     
  7. Longkeg, Feb 10, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019

    Longkeg macrumors regular

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    Location:
    S. Florida
    #7
    The Mac Plus was the first Mac to ship with an 800K double density floppy drive:
    https://everymac.com/systems/apple/mac_classic/specs/mac_plus.html#macspecs2

    Since the OP hasn’t stated specifically what kind of disks he has or how they were formatted all any of us can do is guess. For $14 this would certainly be the cheapest solution. I’m not sure what you mean by a Mac Specific drive. Apple bought drives from many suppliers. All the drive does is read ones and zeros off the magnetic media. It’s the software, the drivers, on the computer that makes sense of the data. It’s probably a moot exercise anyway. I would very surprised if those 30 year old floppies were still readable by anything.
     
  8. JoeInMilwaukee macrumors regular

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    Apr 7, 2015
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    Milwaukee, WI
    #8
  9. Longkeg macrumors regular

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    Jul 18, 2014
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    S. Florida
    #9
  10. BrianBaughn macrumors 603

    BrianBaughn

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #10
    Based on that Lowendmac article and the Amazon reviews on the USB floppy drives, it looks like one of those won't be able to read the old 800K floppies.

    Even if you could find an old, working Mac with a floppy drive that will successfully read the disks you still have to deal with (not necessarily in this order):
    • Finding software that will properly open the files
    • Transferring the files or their contents to your current computer
     
  11. Fishrrman macrumors P6

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #11
    I'm trying to reach WAY BACK in memory here.

    Modern USB floppy drives can't read 400k or 800k Mac floppies because of the drive's "encoding" design.

    I believe the original Mac floppy drives differed from PC floppy drives of the time in that one used something called "MFM" encoding and the other used "GFR" or "GCR" (or something like that). Can't remember which was which, but I CAN recall that they were NOT compatible with each other.

    That's why floppy disks used on PC's were "720k", not "800k".
    NONE of the "USB floppy drives" will be able to read the old 800k Mac disks.

    OP:
    Your best bet remains to seek out a computer shop or Mac user group which may still have an older Mac capable of reading 800k Mac floppies (assuming your disk IS 800k and not 400k, which may present further problems).

    Having said that, there are probably "data exchange services" that specialize in getting data from old media onto modern media.
    Yes, it costs money, but one of them may be able to do what you need.
     
  12. BrianBaughn macrumors 603

    BrianBaughn

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    Feb 13, 2011
    Location:
    Baltimore, Maryland
    #12
    From what I've seen it's the "variable speed" characteristic of the old mac floppy drives that's the main culprit keeping the new ones from reading the 800K disks.
     

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