Re: Extracting files off “unknown” 8 inch disks. Any thoughts…

Terry Stewart terry at
Thu May 4 16:41:20 CDT 2017

Hi guys,

Just tying up some unfinished business.  Right at the beginning of this
thread I said...

>Guys in the building next door to me (a Science lab) have found some 8
inch floppy disks.
>They want to see what’s on them, or at least to archive them.
>They have no idea what machine these disks were used with, or the software
was used to write the files.
>They may be CP/M, or some other format entirely.

Now that I've got the 8 inch disk drive up and running and have some
experience with it, I thought I've give these disks a go.

It turns out these disks are from a VAX machine. Assuming the OS is VMS, I
scoured the Internet for something that might read them.

Eventually I found Hunter Goatley's v 1.3 of Paul Nankervis's ODS2 at .  This program
reads VMS disks from PCs.  The zip had a Win32 executable included.
The executable seems to run ok in the DOS window of the Win98 machine I've
attached the drive too, in that the Command Line Interface seems fine and I
can type and issue commands.  However, I've had no luck with mounting the
disk in ODS2.  The error I get (consistent over all disks) is:

"Sector 1 read failed 87
PHYIO Error 500 Block 1 Length 512 (ASPI: 0 0 0)
Mount failed with 500"

I may have reached the limit of my skill envelope.  Before I abandon the
task and suggest to these researchers to consider sending these disks to
Chuck C., does anyone know...

1. What that error means?
2. If it would make a difference that I'm running the Win32 exe in Windows
98, rather than NT, 2000, XP etc.?   The documentation doesn't mention
Windows 98, however the program does start to a CLI without a problem.
3. I'm not sure ODS2 was built with 8 inch disks in mind?  Would it make a
difference?  CP/M disks in the 8 inch drive can be accessed and
read/written to under MS-DOS by the machine  I have the drive hooked up to,
so I don't think it's a hardware issue.
4. How likely is it that disks from a 1985 VAX is in some weird proprietary
format OTHER than VMS?

Any comments most welcome.



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