The short version:
I'm looking for ideas and suggestions on how to best save/transfer all my disks (as a final Apple II project) to the PC. There's lots to be saved and it is my intent to trickle them down to asimov for all to enjoy. Been prattling on about this for a long while. And if I don't start this in the next couple of days I'll never get it done. So I've made a few practice runs.
Handling standard 35-track disks isn't a problem ADTPro whips them by in a minute each. But it doesn't handle 36-track disks, of which I have many because back in the day we were desperate for storage space, and every sector counted. And this is where I'm getting hung up. Besides ADTpro not handling these, Copy II+ and other standard utilities don't really do it either. These aren't protected disks, they're just disks with crap we accumulated over the years.
I'm not interested in preserving copy-protected disks, most of them except for a few are already on asimov. I'm just interested in saving all the stuff from the BBS era and all programming tricks and experiments. The goal here is to preserve the information and maybe even prepare compilation disks, as a lot of it is scattered all over the place.
So I'm open to suggestions how to deal with those 36-track bastardized disks.
And how to develop a good workflow that will minimize wear and tear on my original hardware. 4000 disks is a lot. Let's discuss!
The longer version:
Back in the day we would do many tricks and hacks to gain as much performance as possible, storage capacity is no exception. We'd do things like deleting DOS, shortening the VTOC, and adding a 36th track.
Back then it was pretty cool. We got a whole extra track's worth of data. We weren't thinking about the future or saving this stuff. And it's become a hassle. A hassle because not all modern tools handle these modded disks.
I'm at the point in my massive archiving project where I've encountered several hundred 36 track disks prepared by something called AAJS Disk Optimizer (and other pirate tools of the day). This essentially eliminated DOS and added a 36th track. The elimination of DOS is not a problem. But the addition of the 36th track is. While manipulating them on real hardware is not a problem - transferring them in a timely manner and quick manner to the PC looks like it WILL be. AAJS Disk Optimizer wasn’t the only tool that could do this. There were a couple of others IIRC.
ADTPro won't work, it only captures $0-22, not grabbing $23. Same thing with Copy II+ series, only works with $0-22 when it comes to pushing files around and isn't used for transferring anyways.
What a pain in the ass!! I don't even remember what DOS I used to even read/write to those 36 track disks. Not every disk has files crammed into that 36th track.
I'm open to suggestions as to how to handle these disks, and discovering some utilities & methods that will help out in "restoring" them to standard .DSK format. What DOS do I need? What copy programs. All that good stuff
Yup, we were all young and stupid and back then and were not thinking 50 years into the future!
I'm also open to suggestions as how to best handle imaging 4000 disks. I don't think I want to put wear and tear on my good drives for that amount of reading + the fact that these are old disks and I know that MEMOREX disks will be shedding their oxide quite easily. So I'm only going to have 2 or 3 read tries at best before they blow up on me. I've already bought a couple back from the brink! A lot of it is from the hacking days, lots of text files, lots of BBS material, different versions of stuff already there. Really, a good variety, and insight into the local BBS scene. And other not-seen-before things. It'll be trickled down to Asimov as I recover it and verify it.
This FAQ entry describes the exact "problem" I'm facing today.
001- How many tracks can I use on a 5.25" diskette?
001- How many tracks can I use on a 5.25" diskette? So far,
I've heard 35, 36, and 40. What's the actual number?
The standard number of tracks on a 5.25" diskette is set by DOS 3.3
and ProDOS at 35, numbered 0-34 ($00-$22 in hexadecimal).
The original Disk ][ drive can usually handle 36 tracks with no
problem. Newer 5.25" drives can handle 40 tracks.
Various modified versions of DOS 3.3 allow using 36 tracks and a
few allow using 40 tracks. These mods, especially the 36-track versions,
were fairly popular before the advent of 3.5" diskettes when an extra
track made a noticeable difference in capacity. However, unless the extra
capacity is vital for some specific application, it is best to stick
with 35 tracks in order to retain full compatibility with disk utilities
(such as Copy II Plus) and other wares.
It was only mid-way into my Apple II computing "Career" that I (we) stopped playing with space-increasing tricks. And then shortly thereafter I got into the PC, where storage capacity was never a problem again. Shit, today they just demonstrated a 1TB SD card!
I'm not necessarily interested in preserving these as an exact disk image. But more so for the information. Text files, utilities, BBS installations.. Making it easy accessible in emulators, and easy-to-recreate standard disk images.. That sort of thing. If TEXTFILE#1 is at the beginning of the disk or at the end of the disk is pretty much irrelevant, as long as it's ON the disk - because most of these disks were made by fellow hackers and stuff.
In fact, it might be best to make compilations, like for example, a single disk full of all the Dalton Disk Disintegrators. I’ve got something like 17 distinct versions of that. And 6 versions of Com-Ware II, you get the idea.
Back in the day we didn’t organize everything efficiently or comprehensively. We just focused on getting it. Hoarding it.
I also wouldn't mind doing this entirely away from my real Apple II hardware, something like a "disposable" drive attached to a PC or something. Something to keep the wear and tear down. Suggestions please!
But most importantly of all I want this to be a fun, final, Apple II project. And not turn it into a miserable drudgery. It's been a long time coming and time to get it done.