Question: Anyone have any idea what file format an IBM Wheelwriter 50 Series II (6788) uses? Its on 3.5 Floppies... ~ Ask The Admin

Monday, July 09, 2007

Question: Anyone have any idea what file format an IBM Wheelwriter 50 Series II (6788) uses? Its on 3.5 Floppies...

We have a reader with an old school question. He is trying to bring a ancient machines files into this century. These word processor has a 3.5" floppy drive but the files are unreadable in MS Word and WP. Can you guys help him?

I've got a 80s throwback question for you.
A paralegal in our office has an IBM Wheelwriter 50 Series II (6788) that she uses for all her wordprocessing. It's from 1988. It has a little computer monitor attached to it that accepts 3.5" floppies. I'm trying to help her move to a PC, but she doesn't want to lose all the documents she has stored on these floppies. I've tried reading the floppies with MS Word and Wordperfect on a PC, but it comes up as nonsense. Any idea on a utility/process to move the documents over to a PC-readable format?

Thanks for your help.

Here is the answer: I believe that IBM used EBCDIC coding, which explains the nonsense characters. It may be possible to save documents as ASCII, but I guess you'd have to open each one first.Or there's this...

Ooh, EBCDIC, good point. Here's an online EBCDIC-ASCII converter that you could run a couple files through, to see if Mutant Enemy's suggested app would be useful.

On a unix-like system (including Mac):dd if=file.txt of=newfile.txt conv=asciiConverts the file from EBCDIC and reveals readable text... there's still a bunch of crap in there, but it's half the battle.

Oh, and I confirmed that the EBCDIC - ASCII conversion worked, with a sample file provided by the OP in other online forums where (s)he has posed the same question.

Wow. I'll give this conversion a try. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll let you know how it goes.posted by banger100 at 7:04 AM on July 13

You folks are golden. The EBCDIC-ASCII conversion tool worked! The resulting file has all the text, but also a lot of nonsense that I'll need to strip out. Any easy way to strip out all the remaining nonsense?posted by banger100 at 7:17 AM on July 13

Note that there are several different versions of EBCDIC, most of the online converters are going to be geared towards the System/360 variant I'd imagine. So you might want to try the files on a few different translators if you don't have immediate success.posted by Mitheral at 7:26 AM on July 13