Although Roddenberry died in 1991, it wasn’t until much later that his estate discovered nearly 200 5.25-inch floppy disks. One of his custom-built computers had long since been auctioned and the remaining device was no longer functional.
But these were no ordinary floppies. The custom-built computers had also used custom-built operating systems and special word processing software that prevented any modern method of reading what was on the disks.
After receiving the computer and the specially formatted floppies, DriveSavers engineers worked to develop a method of extracting the data. There was no user manual for the computer, nor was there any technical documentation to help guide them.
It took over three months for the DriveSavers engineering team to develop software that could read the disks. Even though the engineers were able to crack the unusual formatting, reading the nearly 200 disks took the better part of a year to finish.
All told, Cobb said when the operating system files were excluded, about 2-3MB of data was recovered from the 200 floppies. That may seem like a minuscule amount by today’s standards, but in the 1980s, document files were small. Roddenberry’s lost words were substantial.
So what’s actually on the disks? Lost episodes of Star Trek? The secret script for a new show? Or as Popular Science once speculated, a patent for a transporter?
Unfortunately, we don’t know.
Cobb ain’t saying. Understandably, when DriverSavers is contracted to recover data, it’s also bound by rules of confidentiality. PCWorld reached out to the Roddenberry estate but was told it had no comment on the data or its plans for the newly discovered writing of Gene Roddenberry.
After months of painstaking work to recover files that hadn’t been seen in over 30 years, the question remained, what kind of data did DriveSavers unearth? The answer? “Documents,” says Mike Cobb, DriveSavers director of engineering. “Lots of documents.” As to the contents of the documents, Mike says, “2016 just happens to be the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek, anything could happen, the world will have to wait and see.”
h/t Digital mix guy