Formatting Disks

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Formatting Disks

New to classic computer collecting. I recently got ahold of an Apple 2e and got a huge lot of 5.25 inch floppies off of ebay. Some of them are HD, which I know won't work, but quite a few of them are double density disks. I would like to use these for the computer, but I cannot seem to figure out how to format them. I put them in the drive and do the control+reset command, and nothing happens. They were previously used on a pc clone, so I know they are not already apple formatted. Any help would be appreciated.

Lee Adamson's picture
Last seen: 4 months 5 days ago
Joined: Oct 11 2018 - 22:53
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The ROM Applesoft that you

The ROM Applesoft that you get when you hit control-reset doesn't have any DOS commands in it.  If you don't have any apple 2 boot disk, then you have 2 choices to get  programs loaded without forking out some money:

1. Fake a tape drive on the phono jack in the back, with your phone or something.  (Don't bother, seriously)

2. If your //e has a serial card, use ADT Pro to write a boot disk.


If you don't have a serial card and don't want to fork out the dough for a FloppyEmu (more on that later), you'll probably have to buy a system master disk from somewhere.  Even if you can find a working double density PC 5.25" disk drive, it won't be able to write apple 2 disk images.


The easiest thing to do is probably to buy a FloppyEmu from Big Mess O' Wires.  Then you can write a bunch of disk images to an SD card, then boot a disk copy disk image off the FloppyEmu and use it to write whatever other images you want to physical disks.


The FloppyEmu is pretty great, but I still find it extremely strange to not be able to hear the drive running when it's being accessed, and I prefer to run the often-used stuff off real floppies.  What I did was take an extra floppy controller and put it in slot 7, with only the FloppyEmu hooked to it.  I have my Disk ][s in slot 6 as usual.  The FloppyEmu boots into the Apple2Pi software automagically, but if I want to boot a real floppy I can exit to DOS and type "PR#6" to boot the real floppy in slot 6, drive 1.


A lot of software assumes that the disk controller is in slot 6, so having the FloppyEmu in slot 7 breaks some disk images if you try to boot them from there, and it has to be swapped into slot 6.  This is a pain, but until I have time to head-scratch until I figure out a way to build an interface contraption to swap the FloppyEmu in and out with the flip of a switch, there's no other choice.  Probably easier to put it on S6 D2 (and only have one real floppy drive) and make a thing to invert the drive select line with a switch rather than try to switch between S6 and S7.  But I digress......


Note that the Apple 2 disk drive is single-sided.  You can cut a notch in the other side of the disk and insert it upside-down to use the other side.

Last seen: 3 weeks 5 days ago
Joined: Jul 5 2018 - 09:44
Posts: 492
You need some kind of

You need some kind of bootable DOS disk, either DOS 3.3 or ProDOS.  You can either buy one or make one using something like ADT Pro.  Once you've got a bootable disk, then boot it, put a blank disk in the floppy drive, and do "NEW" followed by "INIT HELLO".  Now you have another bootable floppy disk.  This is the simplified version, I'm leaving out a lot of details.


Last seen: 10 min 23 sec ago
Joined: Jul 14 2018 - 12:54
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You can start by going to the

You can start by going to the Apple II Disc server:

ADTPro 2.0.3, DOS 3.3, DOS 3.4, ProDOS 2.0.3 and ProDOS 2.4.2 will all have the utilities you need to format other disks.  The first and third options will automatically format your initial disk before writing.  (The will say "FORMAT HI-FI", or "FORMAT 8KFI".  Either will work.)

To start, and as mentioned above, plug an aux cable into the speaker/headphone jack on your phone PC or tablet, and the other end into your //e (it will be the jack closest to the joystick port).  Make sure that the volume is turned up to max on your device, then type "LOAD" on your //e (it can be lowercase "load" if //e is enhanced), and press return.  Then insert a disk into your drive, and press play the audio file on your other device.   Your //e will beep twice, then load and run Instadisc to write your boot disk.  When finished, press return to reboot.

A few other things: Make sure that your floppy controller card is in slot 6, or it won't work.  Silence any audio alerts on your device so that they don't interfere with writing your disk (your //e will interpret them as data).  Lastly, some disks might not boot right on an enhanced //e (gives you an "ERROR #8"), but it's ok, just use a DOS Master to remaster them and they'll boot fine (the DOS Masters don't have this issue, but STAR TREK does).

Last seen: 1 year 11 months ago
Joined: Mar 16 2019 - 13:34
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1. Fake a tape drive on the

1. Fake a tape drive on the phono jack in the back, with your phone or something.  (Don't bother, seriously)

Well, using and an audio cable, I was able to create a Dos 3.4 disk without too many retries/problems. So I wouldn't say "don't bother", because it works great. Provided that your floppy drive is ok, of course.

Just use the 8KFI audio streams. The HIFI audio streams were less reliable, in my case (using a MacBook).


Biggest issue with ADTPro, that I found, is that it gives no option to create a dos disk for 48K unexpanded machines. ProDos needs 64K, i.e. a language card.

Last seen: 11 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: May 20 2016 - 06:57
Posts: 72
Presently these RAM cards are

Presently these RAM cards are very cheap. The language card could be found on ebay for $20 (including shipping). The 128K saturn compatible RAM card is as low as $40 including postage...

Dog Cow's picture
Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Dec 11 2008 - 16:26
Posts: 555
Here is a fourth or fifth

Here is a fourth or fifth solution:


You can type DOS into memory using the Monitor. Then you can initialize a disk. ;-)

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Last seen: 1 year 10 months ago
Joined: Dec 11 2008 - 16:26
Posts: 555
RetepV wrote:ProDos needs 64K

[quote=RetepV]ProDos needs 64K, i.e. a language card.


ProDOS 1.0 and 1.o.1 will run in 48K. It's BASIC.SYSTEM that requires the Language Card.

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