These days we do a better job of storing data so it’ll be readable 10, 20 and even 50 years down the line. Back in the 90’s however, we weren’t so diligent. As such, the task of recovering the 25-year old “lost” disks of Gene Roddenberry proved difficult, requiring months of painstaking work to not only retrieve the data, but translate it.
As Gordon Mah Ung over at PC World explains, Gene Roddenberry’s estate handed a “couple of shoebox-sized containers” of 5.25-inch disks to data recovery experts DriverSavers, in the hopes the company could rescue some, if not all, of the information they held.
The Star Trek creator didn’t make it easy, however. While some of the disks were “formatted in DOS”, the bulk required another OS — CP/M:
CP/M, or Control Program for Microcomputers, was a popular operating system of the 1970s and early 1980s that ultimately lost out to Microsoft’s DOS. In the 1970s and 1980s it was the wild west of disk formats and track layouts, Cobb said. The DOS recoveries were easy once a drive was located, but the CP/M disks were far more work.
“The older disks, we had to actually figure out how to physically read them,” Cobb told PCWorld. “The difficult part was CP/M and the file system itself and how it was written.”
On top of having to decode the format, not all the disks were in good condition, with a fair number featuring “deep gouges in the magnetic surface”. DriverSavers lucked out a bit here from the sounds of things — the damaged areas were mostly blank.
So, all’s well that ends well, right? Not exactly. Good news for Roddenberry’s estate — it now has the recovered data in hand. It’s just not ready to share it with the rest of the world yet. Hopefully we don’t have to wait another 25 years to find out.