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Thread: I need help reading Tandy floppies

  1. #1

    Default I need help reading Tandy floppies

    I have a box of 5.25" floppy disks from my grandfather's computer that contain his memoirs and correspondence from WWII. The computer was a "Tandy something" he owned for many years. No one in the family knows what the actual model was or what software it ran. Unfortunately the machine itself has long since gone to a recycler.

    I haven't had much luck reading the disks, but I have only PC hardware with 1.2MB drives and I've read that the Tandy used a proprietary disk format. Can anyone give some advice on how to get the data off these disks? I recall that it looked like a traditional desktop (i.e., Tandy 1000), than a console-style (TRS-80), if that helps.
    Last edited by bitfreak; July 25th, 2007 at 10:02 PM.

  2. #2

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    If it's super important, you might try a data recovery place. If you just want to mess around on your own, go to ebay, find a 360K 5.25 drive that will work in something you own. Then google "omniflop", or "teledisk" or "imagedisk" or.... list goes on and on. My CoCo disks are single sided, double density, use only the first 35 tracks, and the "directory" is located at track 17 because that's the middle of 35 tracks. Sector sizes can be anything from 128 bytes to 512 bytes on various formats. PC-DOS won't be able to do anything with the Tandy disks without one of the above programs. Another thing you could try is emulating the machine. Of course, it would help if you knew the machine.

  3. #3

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    If one of your family can recall what the system looked like it may help (assuming it really is a Tandy or TRS). That would narrow down the formatting and operating system choices a little.

    Was it a unit with a built-in monitor and keyboard (TRS-80 model III or IV), or a keyboard unit that attached to a TV or external monitor (TRS-80 model I). Did it have color or just black and white (color would be TRS CoCo 1,2,3).

    The bad part is the disks could also be bad but we won't go down that path yet since they're likely a format unsupported by Windows.

    - John

  4. #4

    Default

    ok, just now saw your comment on the the desktop. So it was a box computer with external keyboard and external monitor? Yeah that could be a regular Tandy 1000TX or something (http://www.fortunecity.com/marina/reach/435/trs1000.htm). What OS are you trying to read the disks with? I believe XP and maybe 2000 can't read some of the lower formatted sizes even if they were MSDOS compatable which by Chuck's post they wouldn't be.

    But yes, some disk image dumping software and an emulator or some special disk reading utility for Tandy disks images may let you know if there is data on the disks. You could even dump the disks to images and use a hex editor to open that file and search for text (not a good technique but you may be able to acknowledge that there's valid data on the disk *assuming the software (most didn't back then) didn't do any compression on the text).

    - John

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default tandy disks

    Ive actually spent the better part of the night setting up to write tandy disk images back onto disks. The Tandy I have is a Tandy TRS-80 Model 2000. It is a slimline looking desktop with a 80186 processor. The Disks that it used were 5.25 720k QD (quad-density; 96TPI) Disks, so look on the disks and see if that matches.

    If it was a Model 2000, then you can get a program called zapmid, and "zap" the disks. It changes them subtly so ya PC will read them.

    For my purpose, I was told to use High Density disks and a standard 1.2Mb drive to write the teledisk(.td0) files back on. I found that DSHD (double sided, high density) didn't work and only had success with DSDD Soft Sector(double sided, double density).

    Another way you could try, and is actually my preffered way is:

    1. download teledisk 2.16 and copy it to new folder such as c:\tandy
    2. Boot to DOS using a boot disk if you have to or restart in ms-dos mode if in win95
    3. put floppy in 1.2Mb drive
    4. Run teledisk, choose disk to file
    5. once the file is saved, download an emulator for each tandy computer and try it. It shouldn't take long to find it!!


    Alternatively, email me a disk image and Ill test it on my tandy model 2000, and if not for it, I can help you track down what system.

    Cheers,

    HaQue

  6. #6
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    Default

    Yes, my first guess would be the T2K also, since that was the only PC-type Tandy with a strange disk format.

    --T
    Teach your children how to think, not what, and hold 'em close, not tight.
    _____________________________________________

    Please visit the Vintage-Computer Wiki. Contributers welcome.

  7. #7

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    I've heard mixed comments on using higher density media for lower density replications. I've done it and it worked fine for me but I read from several sources they were saying the copied disk won't last as long and has more chance of the sectors getting misaligned. I can't remember if I was working on a 5.25 project or creating DSDD 3.5's for the Amiga but I do remember although I could "chip" a 5.25 or tapa a 3.5 to work as the previous media it was frowned upon.

    Like I said, worked for me but I wasn't doing anything for long term archival just temporary access.

    - John

  8. #8
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    Generally, I use double-density media with quad-density hardware (I've been told that the only difference is the labeling, and of course, the price). I've always had much better luck than with HD media in such a drive.

    --T
    Teach your children how to think, not what, and hold 'em close, not tight.
    _____________________________________________

    Please visit the Vintage-Computer Wiki. Contributers welcome.

  9. #9

    Default

    Well, as we have read many times on this forum, the QD media needs a stronger magnetic field to get those little magnetic domains to line up. Meaning higher current to the head. I too fork out the moderately higher price to buy DD media. Works great. That "Athana" disk media place has been a great source for my DD needs. I might even try out their HP 85 tape media! That will require more current to the head to use correctly (as they clearly tell you on the website).

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by barythrin View Post
    So it was a box computer with external keyboard and external monitor?
    I'm almost certain I recall a separate keyboard. Beyond that my memory is by far too old to be accurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by barythrin View Post
    What OS are you trying to read the disks with?
    FreeBSD using dd, but that's currently producing IO errors. I'm not sure if it's the drives or alignment issues, though, and now I have to wonder if I need lower-capacity drives as suggested previously. I couldn't convince any of my Windows or DOS machines that the disks were formatted.

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