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8 inch floppy disks

Can some one here tell me the best way to read 8 inch floppy disks? Is there a system that can used to read these and have the data transfered off. What formats were common?
Any information on I would be very grateful.
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vdms
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vdms
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10 Solutions
 
cpoint-serviceCommented:
There is a Drive unit on ebay.  Other than this, I am not aware of any method to read these disks.
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pony10usCommented:
8 inch floppys were common on mainframes back in the '80s.  Most PC's started with 5 1/4 inch and then went to 3 1/2.

Not sure if you can get drivers for todays OS's even if you did get an actual drive like the one on eBay.
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grahamnonweilerCommented:
8 inch floppy disks were commonly used during the late 70's and early 80's on PCs (some mainframes from IBM used the 8" format). The 8 inch disk predated (came before) the 5.25 inch disk.

A number of PCs (and some dedicated word processors) used them, in the states the Radio Shack TRS80 Model II was an extremely popular business orientated PC that featured 2 by 8 inch drives.

The operating system at that time was CPM and as such most of DOS was CPM code copied by Microsoft. You will probably find that the data on the disks is written using CPM, and will be readable by most versions of Linux and DOS - an 8 inch disk has a capacity of 512KB (it records on both sides).

If the disks you have were used by a Mainframe they will likely be unreadable by anything other than the original equipment it was written with (IBM, DEC, NCR, Honeywell all had 8" drive units).

The most popular Wordprocessors at that time using 8" disks came from Wang, and again you would need an actual unit to read the disk.
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CallandorCommented:
Aside from the problem of getting a working drive, you would need an OS that has drivers for such a drive.  After getting around that, you would run into the problem of magnetic media being consistently readable after so much time.  8-inch floppies only held about a megabyte of data.
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vdmsAuthor Commented:
Thank you for all your help is this quest.
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
I gave my 8" drive to a local computer museum a few years ago, if you have anything like that nearby I'm sure you could get the help you need.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Can some one here tell me the best way to read 8 inch floppy disks? Is there a system that can used to read these and have the data transfered off. What formats were common?
Any information on I would be very grateful.

1.  What created the disks? Machine Type/OS (could be CP/M (if you are lucky) or could be WANG or a number of other manufacturers that had proprietary file formats
2. You need to get the appropriate 8" Floppy or the hardware to read these disks.

Best of luck.. A computer museum might be helpful or may accept these as a donation.
I gave them a stack of DEC tapes a while ago.
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vdmsAuthor Commented:
Not too sure what format they are yet. They were used to for closed caption data, probably inserted into some decoder but they were essentially used to hold a .cap file.
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pony10usCommented:
Here is what I see:

1. The disks are very old and may or may not be readable. Those disks were easily scratched through the little window used for reading.

2. You need a drive capable of reading them. This can be found but maybe cost prohibitive for basically a one time use

3. Old floppies often (not always) had to be read on the same drive that wrote them because of head alignment

4. Unknown what OS and application was used to create them

5. Need a driver for a current OS

Depending on the need to get at what is on the disks and confidentiality of the data, you might be better off taking them to a museum to see if they have a way to read them.
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vdmsAuthor Commented:
I have heard about the museum. Can you refer me to any computer museum in the Los Angeles Area?
Cost isn't that much of an issue when purchasing this as there may be thousands to do so it would not be a one-time situation.
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vdmsAuthor Commented:
Thank you for this link. I am gonna contact them for info.
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andyalderSaggar makers bottom knockerCommented:
Your trouble will not just be finding any old 8" floppy and a machine that can handle it but having the right format supported. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_floppy_disk_formats

single sided, double sided, single density, double density, hard sectored soft sectored - list is endless. I'd recommend finding a professional outfit who still has the kit available.
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vdmsAuthor Commented:
Thank you. I may have found some people who can help but I need the disks in hand for analysis so I can make the best decision.
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vdmsAuthor Commented:
I've requested that this question be closed as follows:

Accepted answer: 0 points for vdms's comment #a38350450

for the following reason:

I found an expert to deal with this. Thank you for your help.
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Great going...
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