Remember those Brother WP-500 disks I mentioned a while back? I was unable to find a compatible machine to actually read and print the disks myself. My research revealed there were only three models that could read this format. A guy in Britain advised me that they are considered “logically hard-sectored” — whatever than means — and that without the native system, it’s simply impossible to convert these disks without “special bespoke” data conversion software & hardware.
(I’m always interested in expanding my vocabulary. The word “bespoke” sent me running to my dictionary. It means “custom or custom-made” and it’s a British usage.)
After scouring numerous internet forums I concluded he was right. Certain Brother formats appear to be totally unique. I think they actually spin the disk at a different speed or something, so it literally can’t be mounted in any form without custom hardware. It’s like they went out of their way to screw me.
I finally knuckled under and shelled out the bucks for professional data recovery. I went with Pivar Computing Services out of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. They’re just about the only folks in the country who can handle my particular format. Actually, there seems to be only one guy left, Scott, and he’s fixing to close shop. He said they spent two and a half years in the late ’80s to reverse engineer over 100 Brother models. Back then Pivar had 30 employees, now just Scott. I gather they are still using those custom machines they made twenty years ago, because they’re slow. It takes 90 minutes to convert a 240KB disk. Anyway, he gave me a decent bulk discount, so I ponied up and mailed him the disks. I insured them for $1,000 in hopes they wouldn’t get lost in transit.
Then I waited.
I just got the data back. There’s 357 files from 14 disks — letters, journal entries, poetry, fiction, and weird fragments — 2.6 MB in Rich Text Format. There are no time and date stamps, but all the stuff seems to have been written between ’88 and ’92. They range in length from a 5,000 word first chapter of a novel (unfinished, natch) to the extreme brevity of the poem below. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to with all this text, though I have some ideas. All I can say is it’s been worth every penny in terms of recovering a lost chunk of my life and memory. I thought I’d share the excitement by posting up three samples here.
Without further ado then, a short poem, which enjoys the distinction of having a title almost as long as the poem itself.
THE MANIA FOR DOCUMENTATION CONSIDERED AS A DISEASE
Camera lenses leech-like sucking life from Christmas smiles
Ah. Worth every penny. More to come.