Skip to comments.Help with antique computer (vanity)
Posted on 10/12/2013 8:25:24 AM PDT by ottbmare
Back in the early 1980s I was a first-adopter and bought an AT&T 6300 PC. Believe it or not, it still fires up and runs (though the monitor fizzes now and won't display anything). It runs MS-DOS and had Wordstar on it.
I backed up the work I had on that machine with both hard copies and floppy disks, (you young whipper-snappers might have heard of those), but they were all destroyed in a fire. Always intended to ask someone if there was a way to get the information off the old hard drive, but I kept thinking, "mañana," and the years went by.
Now I am getting ready to leave my home of 22 years and am looking to throw things out. Before I take this faithful classic machine to the dump, does anyone know of a way, thirty + years later, to get data off this machine? Stories of daughter's childhood, a lot of correspondence, work writing, book proposals, and other stuff are there. It would be nice to have it back. But I'm poor (if I weren't broke I wouldn't be leaving this house) so I can't spend thousands.
Ideas, suggestions, contacts, or links would be most gratefully received.
I could give it a shot, I have some older machines, do you by chance live anyplace near central VA? I work for beer.
If it has a standard hard drive (IDE) you might be able to use a SATA/IDE to USB adapter.
That allows you to plug the hard drive into a newer machine and possibly read the data.
I did that when my old XP crashed. The adapter would not read my C:\OS drive, but it did read my data partion D:\ drive and I was able to copy files to my new desktop.
Google SATA/IDE to USB adapter. They cost around $15 to $20.
Use the floppy drive.
For about $20 you can get an external hard drive adapter at most computer sellers. http://www.amazon.com/Drive-Adapter-Converter-Optical-External/dp/B002OV1VJW
Then you plug it into another computer and access the old drive to copy the files. IF the computer hard drive has an IDE interface this might work.
There are other ways but they are expensive or require a lot of technical knowledge. Beer might also be an option.
Very sorry to hear you are leaving your home.
The economy sucks.
( the older computer geeks will get the reference)
Yes, it does. Thanks for the condolences. I’m really sad about losing the family homestead and so are my adult kids.
And thanks to all of you guys for your suggestions. I don’t know if this has an IDE interface but I’m trying to find out online. If it does, and this adapter can actually transfer the data to my win 7 machine, there has to be some way, surely, to translate the old material into something that could be read and understood on a more modern machine.
If you can post here on it, you have internet access.
If you have internet access - you can open a gmail account, and email those vital documents to yourself. Google has a much larger account size, than the entire hard drive of your old computer - so everything should fit nicely.
It is old enough some collector types might want it. I see them on e-bay for up to 299.95. Maybe you could trade the computer for the data. Maybe a small independent shop. This is pre IDE so the the external drive stuff won’t work. Transfer with a serial cable to a newer computer is a option. But this takes somebody who knows DOS well. There are ways to get it done cheaply.
That computer was built at a time when email had been invented but the Internet was just a gleam in the eye of some scientists. It does not have Internet access. I’m writing this from my work iPhone and usually post from a Toshiba Win 7 laptop.
Thanks! I’ll bookmark that and if I can get the files off the old machine I will use it. Much appreciated.
If you want to keep digital data, you need to be prepared to migrate it to newer technologies before the old technology disappears. I'm sure many of us still have data stored on 3" floppies and even CDs that may quickly become no longer retrievable. Think of all the 8mm home movies and VHS recordings we have of important family events that may be lost for our grandkids or great grandkids because the technology to play them is long gone.
How big is the hard drive? Probably only 10MB?
Does it have big 5 inch floppy drive or 3.5 in. drive?
If it has the big floppy, I’m wondering if you couldn’t replace it with a 3.5 and then copy files onto that?
Take hard drive out and put in an enclosure. Convert the file system to NTFS (instruction below). Slime chance you will lose the files, but better than no chance.
No one bothered to mention that you are most likely using FAT16 file system that Windows 7 will not read. Once you plug the external drive in you will need to convert to NTFS using the Convert command to read the files off the disk.
First of all,I am an oldschooler so sort of recognize that machine,having started in hobby computing before the IBM PC.If I understand you,the computer itself works but the monitor doesn’t.Not sure how you can tell the computer is still ok.
Not certain which monitor you have -could be mono,or CGA, or special to AT&T.Looks like the monitor is unique.
Most likely the hard drive is MFM interface ,not IDE.IDE came along a few years later I think.Those external hard drive case will be of no use with an MFM drive.
Do an internet search,there are several sites about the AT&T 6300 .
AS for recovering your data,professional services are likely to be costly.
If the computer still works ,emailing the files to yourself might be an option.There are still floppy disk available,probably on ebay.
A null modem cable to a computer having a serial port might be another option.
IF nothing else, at least remove the hard drive before tossing the computer;you may find someone willing to recover your info later.
Parallel or Serial cable. Laplink, FastLynx, and even DOS 6.xs built-in INTERLNK can all transfer files over cable. Its inconvenient and not too swift, but it works.
FastLynx has the same code as INTERLNK but has a nifty interface and can use realtime compression.
An Iomega zip drive might work, since it will run off the parallel port. I think I still have one in my garage somewhere, but I might have thrown it out.
If you could find someone with a monitor and some floppies...
This needs to sent to ottbmare. Many new laptops don’t have an serial port but most desktops still do. I had to get a usb - serial adapter.
Since the computer is in working condition I would look in vintage computer forms for help. I think you could find some one to trade you the data on a cd for the box.
All the help I can offer for now.
Printers with “printer ports” are still around... Borrow a printer and a working CGA monitor, and print everything out.
That service manual PDF is 25 MB
larger than the HDD in question
There are many hard drive enclosures out there ... but determine what cable you need for your hard drive mechanism - to - hard drive enclosure ... connection ... and then get such an enclosure.
Remove your computer’s hard drive from the computer, and install the hard drive into the enclosure that you bought.
The hard drive enclosure will most likely have a USB or Firewire connection for connecting to some computer.
Find somebody whom you trust, and they use the Mac -— any Mac OS from 10.4 “Tiger” thru 10.8 “Mountain Lion” will do.
Connect your hard drive enclosure to that Mac.
Your hard drive will mount and a generic icon (most likely) will display in the Finder window for the Mac’s Desktop.
Ask your friend to create a new folder on the Mac’s Desktop.
Copy the contents of your hard drive to that folder.
Make a DVD of the contents of that folder.
Repeat for addition old hard drives that you might have around.
VERY easy to get the data off of a Windows OS based machine hard drive, when using the Mac.
Hook up the computer`s telephone jack to your fax machine and turn on the hard drive?
It works from the telephone line to the fax to the pc. It prints out hacking inquires.
never tried the reverse.
You need to find a working, compatible monitor. Then, if you’re lucky, really lucky, the system might actually start up and you might be able to access the hard drive. I’m sorry to say that I would be very surprised if you get this far.
At this point you could transfer the data onto floppies, and then find a PC with a floppy drive that can read them.
You can ignore the comments about taking out the hard drive and putting it in a modern machine. The oldest thing they will support is IDE which didn’t come out until 1986.
You can ignore the comments about using a program to transfer the data over serial/parallel, unless you happen to have that installed already, or can find it on a floppy to install. Otherwise, you still need another machine with another floppy drive to get the software to your 6300, which means you can just use the floppy to transfer the data.
Good grief.Please don’t take this too personal.
Please pay attention to what the original poster wrote.
He has personal data on an old computer running DOS,not any version of Windows.Worse,his old monitor (display screen) is bad and it is also a really non-standard one.
He is using a different and much newer computer to post here.
The apparent goal is recovery of data of personal value,not re-use of a tiny old hard drive.
Telling him to run a hard drive erasing program that won’t even begin to load on an old DOS computer is a sign somebody didn’t read the original question.
The old computer’s hard drive is not compatible with any of the external hard drive enclosures sold now. Not IDE,.not PATA or SATA or USB.
All these Windows tips are not relevant until he gets the data off the old drive and onto a newer one.
This thread is not unique;in every computer forum I see lots of people posting answers who ASSUME the person asking for help must be using the latest version of Windows ,regardless of all the contrary info posted in the question.
Don’t take it to the dump, sell it on Ebay. Believe it or not people pay good money for old computers like that.
Your reply does not apply to my post.
Undoubtedly, that is an MFM hard drive. You might see if you can find an old PC with an MFM controller. It might read the drive.
Personally, I’d consider contacting some data recovery firms to see if any of them have an old PC/AT ISA interface setup for doing that.
You could likely find someone to fix the monitor for little money.
I assume you have inspected the connection?
Adding to my earlier tip, we used to use a Linux based PC box, but later switched to using the Mac, since the Mac became a Unix machine.
We figured out how to attach any old drive to the box, then read the drive contents via Linux; later, doing the same via a Mac - though using an external hard drive enclosure.
Take it to your local college and see if you can get them to use it for a class project to retrieve your info. Should be a good learning experience for them.
I dunno, do you have a cassette recorder and an rs232 interface lead?
( the older computer geeks will get the reference)
And I’ve been around long enough to remember it was called the Kansas City Interface.
Putting his old hard drive into a working PC of that era. is. a likelier solution.It will require someone to understand how to select drives in the old BIOS screen.Not impossible though rather few except hardcore hobbyists and recovery services may have such a computer still working
Do you understand the difference between MFM and IDE drives?
I am asking seriously.
My hoard has old computers with MFM and another type I forget as well, as SCSI.They predate IDE and I have not seen an external box that didn’t require a controller card specific to those drives. Nor seen such a box for decades.I am curious who still makes one.
Geek level Fixing the AT&T 6300 / Olivetti M24 --- tech. bringing a video-troubled 6300 back to life, using spare parts.
There is a lot of info online, that may help you figure out a path to gaining access to the old hard drive.
If fiddling with connectors of the hard drive mechanism, such that you are attempting to eventually mate the pins to some other input connection on a machine with ATA/IDE connectors (or perhaps a Parallel connector) ... is too much effort, I'd try to get your existing 6300 or a substitute going - running with Linux, and thus gain access to the data on your old hard drive.
Old book stores often have a lot of old Linux version instruction books/guides, that include an old floppy disc with Linux on that disc. You may have some luck, there, finding a copy of Linux that will run as the OS for your old AT&T 6300.
I should have mentioned Knoppix earlier. It's a popular Linux-based startup disc system for managing PC troubles and recovering data.