Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

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BitSeeker
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Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by BitSeeker » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:23 am

I'm not sure whether links to eBay items are allowed so moderators, please moderate as appropriate. However since the seller mentions that he has asked on 'Stardot' and I cannot find a thread about this, I thought I would ask. If there is a previous thread somewhere then please feel free to point it out as I would be interested to know what the opinions were.

Here is the item in question:
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Acorn-Archim ... 2295803777

As a 'Royal Air Force' item this might indeed be "rare" as claimed and perhaps not unreasonably a collectors item, but given the age of the disk and the likelihood that it is actually readable, which the seller seems unable to verify and which one should therefore not expect, would it have any real value without verification of the facts stated?

I'm asking this not just because of this item, but more generally, regarding buying software on 'vintage' floppy disks. Coming from an IT background, and having performed file and data recovery on floppy disks numerous times in a job many years ago, I would imagine that most data on 5.25in floppy diskettes is likely to be deteriorated to the point of not being readable by now. I would also imagine that reading anything reliably off the latter 720mb and 1.44mb diskettes, although perhaps standing a better chance, would still be rather hit-and-miss. I would suggest that the purchase of anything on such media ought to be considered with that in mind. It is fortunate indeed that much software from that era has been preserved as disk images.

What is the forum view on buying software from that era on floppy disks?

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1024MAK
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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by 1024MAK » Tue Apr 24, 2018 12:50 pm

As you indicate, it is very much a risk with untested items.

If the magnetic media was good quality in the first place, it has been stored correctly and has not been damaged, there is a good chance that it may be okay (I have various disks, 5.25" and 3.5" that work okay for example).

But at the same time, there are a lot of disks that are in a poor state, some of which it may not be possible to recover the data from them. Let alone use them as is.

I also would not assume that 3.5" will be better than 5.25" either. As once 3.5" disks start to degrade, they die quicker than 5.25" disks...

It almost certainly has been discussed here before.

Personally, if a disk is genuinely rare, it needs to be copied by someone with that Kryoflux device first.

Mark
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sydney
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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by sydney » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:26 pm

Here is his original post: viewtopic.php?f=29&t=10535

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flaxcottage
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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by flaxcottage » Tue Apr 24, 2018 3:11 pm

Some more info about the disc in question here http://www.stardot.org.uk/forums/viewto ... start=2730

From experience of archiving BBC software very few 5.25" discs are unreadable if they have been kept in a warm dry place. I obtained about 200 or so last weekend at the WROCC show in Wakefield. Of those I tried almost all were readable.

3.5" discs seem to be much more reliable but then they are newer.

Mechanical damage seems to be the one thing that makes a disc totally useless and loss of surface due to a fungus. I have seen quite a few floppies where a faulty disc head has worn a groove in the surface or where a small piece of grit has been trapped between discs and pushed a dent in the disc. Even a Kryoflux will not be able to rescue these.

To answer the question; it is a risk buying software on a floppy from eBay or anywhere else unless the vendor can guarantee that the disc is working. I may have been lucky but all my specific title purchases have been fully working. In a bulk purchase one will find one or two discs which will not read. Even then these discs may take a re-format and become usable.
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CMcDougall
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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by CMcDougall » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:51 pm

All the education discs I've done (40+) & ones that came with a few £20 beebs,
DFS 40 or 80 tracks 51/4" discs, no problems at all :D
ADFS s m l , 31/2" disc's, bin them :lol:

not that I hate ADFS :---) it's the fact that too much is on them in same space /size, so therefore more error prone.
Just as 300 baud tapes will last longer than 1200 due to 4x more space / size spread across with same data.

just checked eBla , £100 is he on crystal meth , 50p tops if not checked, even if has, his drive could of wrecked it after a cat :roll:
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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by Commie_User » Tue Apr 24, 2018 8:43 pm

Well, it's buyer beware. As a collector, you buy for what it is rather than the quality of what's on it. I've gramophone records nearly a decade older than Dr. Crippen's murder and I only heard anything comfortably discernible after noise reduction software had a crack at them. One song was almost completely buried in deteriorated scratch until restoration pulled it out.

The seller's got a blasted nerve selling a disk for that money but if you really want it, expect more to frame it rather than use it.



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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by billcarr2005 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:08 pm

I echo what flaxcottage said about 5.25" usually being readable (except here viewtopic.php?f=2&t=14996 :P)
I find it's usually the insides of the sleeve which have become rough and don't allow the magnetic disk to spin correctly.
I've rarely had a disk fail, except when they've already been scratched and / or when imaging them when I first started, and allowed them to become damaged. Desleeving and giving them a good wash usually does the trick!

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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by Lardo Boffin » Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:10 pm

What do you wash them with in order to avoid damage? (Scourer at the ready... :oops: ).
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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by Hayabusa1984 » Wed Apr 25, 2018 3:45 pm

Hi I'm the resident "meth head" :lol: the amount of views and watchers kinda made me think someones made a post somewhere xD I clearly state I haven't the slightest what the disks worth so sensible offers are welcome the price is high but I think the terms placeholder price or something like that. I've had to sell a lot of stuff to get over Christmas and a surprise holiday my wife sprung on me last month and now my motorbikes front brakes have failed which will cost me about £600-800 so I had to list lots of stuff in my collection I'm not overly worried of selling all this year its been is money money money :(

If anyone's local to me (Weston-super-Mare) you're more than welcome to archive it I just dont have anything to do so.

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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by BitSeeker » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:15 pm

Nah! I wasn't really interested in buying, its just I don't think I have seen one for quite that much before and the name of this forum was mentioned to lend credence to the cause. I was intrigued by the program itself and wondered what had been previously said about it. Thanks to those who have posted links to the previous discussion. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it on the The Centre for Computing History archive page despite an hour or so of searching. If I was looking for something collectible then I think I would have liked confirmation it was readable and would probably do a backup image using a known good drive upon receipt. I would have been more interested in being able to access/run the content itself than hanging the disk on the wall. However I accept that other might wish to collect for other reasons.

Many of the diskettes that came to me for repair were from students and either had a virus that required removal (before the days of automatic removal software this required the use of a disk sector editor or reformat) or corrupted files, usually Word documents containing dissertations or an assignment that had to be in yesterday! Some diskettes were worn to death by rough use and sometimes by worn/defective drive mechanisms. I don't recall much difficulties with sleeves unless they had been trodden on, cracked, or otherwise abused, in which case it was sometimes possible to get at least something off the diskette, provided that the surface had not been damaged, by putting it into another sleeve. Of course, none of this is the fault of the media and that was then and we are now some 30 years into the future. I had been given to understand that these days the main problem is deterioration due to damp and mold. There would also be no way of knowing whether the diskette had been hear a strong magnetic field and suffered damage as a result. What does still hold true is that the greater the disk density, the greater the loss of data is likely to be when damage occurs. From the replies so far it seems that perhaps what I have heard said anecdotally in IT circles about the condition of 'vintage' diskettes may have been somewhat overstated and it is good to know that disks that have been well looked after might stand a reasonable chance of still being readable. Nevertheless, I would still argue that caveat emptor applies.

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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by metaluna » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:58 pm

I was head of IT in a secondary School in the early 1990's when this disc arrived. It was advertised in an education publication, as a career advice tool and you had to request it. Out of curiosity I did so, but was most disappointed, as it was just a text only logistics exercise, which would not have engaged pupils, in my opinion, so I never used it with a class.

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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by Commie_User » Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:31 pm

Yes, better off framing it!

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Re: Buying software on 'vintage' floppy diskettes

Post by flaxcottage » Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:16 pm

I have just archived over 200 5.25" floppy discs which I obtained from the WROCC Show 2018.

There were about 20 useless ones in there. By useless I mean discs which had surface damage visible to the naked eye, traces of 'disc fungus' or ones which threw up disc errors and which would not re-format. That equates to about 10% faulty which I regard as fairly high but the discs were offered as 'untested' and with no indication as to how they were stored.

Discs which have been stored well or which have been tested as working should not present a problem. They are over 30 years old, however, and should be treated with caution.

Pssst... Anyone for a tested and verifyed floppy? :roll: :wink: :lol:
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