While I’m in a “take photos of things and talk about them” mood, let me mention an acquisition from a while ago. It’s a pile of tapes. I bought them at auction, this one, in fact.
I was won over by the description, which was basically this:
For sale on eBay: 35 Cassettes. On them is a full backup of aBBS, yes One GIANT collection of files from a major bbs that was shut down about 5 years ago. It ran on PCBoard 14.5 but all the files are individually zipped and can be extracted and used without concern for any bbs issues. Vintage, many possibly old files, some still quite applicable, some not. Geneology files, thousands and thousands of them. Games, Utilities, the works. Mostly PC and Windows, some mac. This is a complete backup of over 100 categories of software and files and takes up 33 DC2000XL tapes and 2 TR3’s. You could buy to use the files, or buy to reuse the tapes.
Perhaps some of you are happy that a person of my temperament and goals has acquired the tapes and not someone who needed a little extra storage space.
I got these back in August and when I’ve had time, I’ve tried to see about the process of extracting the information off the tapes. I have not been very successful. The description is likely rather accurate, but there’s additional factors. First, a tape drive has to be found. I purchased some tape drives that would hold some of these tapes. (Bear in mind that the description mentions two kinds of tapes but there’s actually 4 or 5: a medley of tape types from what looks to be a decade of operation. Fair enough.
But even trying to bring the data over from the tapes that fit in the tape drives and connected to Windows (these were without a doubt on windows and DOS) has not been very successful.
Here’s the dirty little secret I mentioned: these tape backup systems used crazy proprietary formats. The software that backs them up is commercial. I can’t find restore utilities to save my life. I’m not going crazy at the moment tracking down every possible lead yet (documentary comes first) but this is a fact: stuff backed up just a few years ago is going to be quite the operation to extract. I approached a commercial entity about restoring, and they quoted me $100, per tape, if I could exactly describe what format they’re in. $3500, what a bargain. My current vector of solution is to create a Restoring Machine, which will allow me to pull a lot of stuff off this dead media. This will take a bit of time.
I have 10 years of BBS history on these tapes.
I can’t get them.
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