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The Slanted: Over 200 Floppy Disks Owned by Star Trek Creator Gene Roddenberry Recovered

Originally published by The Slanted.

If you remember floppy disks, then you are showing your age, but we won’t hold it against you. The oversized and flimsy disks were once the staple of data-saving back in the 1980s and 1990s and they marked a pivotal moment in personal storage for both PC computers and early Apple computers. The disks eventually gave way to thumb-drives and cloud-storage, but before they did, they were once used by the dozen to save the work of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

DriveSavers, one of the worldwide leaders in data recovery, eDiscovery and digital forensic services, formally announced today that the company has recovered nearly 200 floppy disks belonging to Star Trek creator—the late Gene Roddenberry.

The original Star Trek television program ran from 1966 to 1969. Roddenberry created scripts for the futuristic show on a typewriter. And later, he used a pair of custom-built computers to capture story ideas, write scripts and notes. Over time, the author moved on to work with more mainstream computers, but kept the custom-built pair in his possession.

Although Roddenberry died in 1991, it wasn’t until much later that his estate discovered nearly 200 5.25-inch floppy disks on which the Star Trek creator stored his work. One of the custom-built computers had long since been auctioned and the remaining device was no longer functional.

LunaTech, the IT company retained by Roddenberry Entertainment, suggested sending the disks to DriveSavers. “We’ve been working with DriveSavers for over 5 years,” said Bobby Pappas, president and founder of LunaTech, “we knew if anyone could get this unique data back, they could.”

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 was tedious work that took the better part of a year to finish.

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.”

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