17

I successfully achieved the reading of several 5.25″ old floppies. They contain old documents from a retired lawyer.

For the memories, we want to read them correctly, nevertheless, I don't find which software was used neither he remember which one.

The text files are similar, starting in the first five lines with the following characters, then follows the text:

.op
.mt1
.hm1
.pl88
..
†††††----!----------!------------------------------------------------
†††††    DƆ ArmandÔ Sanche˙ D°az¨† mayoÚ d edad¨† casado¨† GraduadÔ ç
ç
†††††Social¨† vecinÔ d est· Ciuda‰ coÓ domiciliÔ · efectÔ d notifiç
ç

Does anyone know how I can find out what software to use to read these files?

Kind regards, David.

4
  • 4
    Have you tried to identify it with unix tool "file"?
    – Justme
    Apr 19, 2023 at 16:06
  • 1
    Do you have only the file content and not the file names?
    – PMF
    Apr 19, 2023 at 19:51
  • What kind of answer do you expect? Do you just want to know the used word processor? Or do you want to extract the contents? If so, with or without the formatting? Please edit your question and clarify. Apr 20, 2023 at 5:56
  • 2
    @DavidSosa: You can try to install WordStar itself and see if the files open properly. On this site winworldpc.com/product/wordstar you can find various versions of the program. I did not use any of those files, and I do not plan to do it - simply because I do not have Wordstar files. I have the link from the Wikipedia site: justsolve.archiveteam.org/wiki/WordStar. I got there by searching "import from wordstar" - which returns quite a lot of results.
    – virolino
    Apr 20, 2023 at 12:55

4 Answers 4

19

WordTsar – A Wordstar clone might be able to read the files. It is open-source and cross-platform. Compatibility depends on the version of WordStar used to write the files.

It does implement an impressive number of WS's Dot Commands.

3
  • 3
    LOL, what a great name for a clone! Apr 21, 2023 at 12:20
  • 1
    Awesome, thank you very much everyone for your valuable help. I am impressed by the power of the community of this forum. And many thanks to you, @scruss for giving me the direct solution. Have a lovely weekend =)
    – David Sosa
    Apr 21, 2023 at 20:52
  • 2
    I'm really glad it worked for you, @DavidSosa. WordStar is one of the few legacy file formats that OpenOffice will not convert, so it's good to know that WordTsar can fill a gap
    – scruss
    Apr 22, 2023 at 20:50
33

Almost definitely WordStar or a compatible program such as NewWord.

  • dot commands at the top. From the WordStar 3.3 manual:

    • .op - omit page numbers
    • .mt1 - margin top 1 line
    • .hm1 - heading margin 1 line
    • .pl88 - page length 88 lines (likely 11" x 8 lines/inch)
    • .. - next line is a comment line and not printed
  • 8th bit of last letter of each word set high - just clear the bit to get regular text

The only thing that doesn't make sense to me is the 5 characters at the beginning of each regular text line. That may be an artifact of the copy/paste process - i.e., actually some other character.

3
  • 1
    Maybe they are "let's center the table using tabs, spaces or some other character"...
    – virolino
    Apr 20, 2023 at 6:20
  • 21
    The † is unicode 0x2020 which is the same as two spaces run together as a 16 bit character. My guess is there has been some incorrect conversion between character sets along the way.
    – JeremyP
    Apr 20, 2023 at 10:43
  • @virolino according to other answers/comments, that seems to be how Wordstar worked
    – Esther
    Apr 20, 2023 at 16:47
19

Looks to me like a set of dot commands found at the beginning of a Wordstar file .mt1 margin at top, .hm heading margin. Try Wordstar 3

Unfortunately, modern word processors that I know of don't have import filters for Wordstar.

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  • 9
    Also evident from the use of high ASCII characters as the last character of each word. WordStar only supports 7-bit ASCII; the 8th bit was used as a flag on the last character of words, presumably to indicate that the space(s) following the word could be adjusted (add or remove spaces, add or remove line breaks. WordStar didn’t format the paragraph on the fly; it literally changed spaces/line breaks, on the file’s content) Apr 19, 2023 at 16:33
  • 2
    Although there is something weird about the specific high-Ascii characters being shown in the post. They don’t match what you would expect, even accounting for typical codepage conversion snafus between 437, 1252, 850, or even 860 for a stretch (none of the snafus I tried anyway) Apr 19, 2023 at 16:55
  • 1
    Not for the faint-of-heart but I did find this on converting WS to MS Word: ataridogdaze.com/tech/….
    – jwh20
    Apr 19, 2023 at 20:39
  • 2
    In reference to @jwh20’s suggestion: if the OP doesn’t have Perl, installing Perl just for this purpose might be a bit overkill. But the task is ultimately simple: “Set the 8th bit of every character to 0”. This can be easily reimplemented on just about any language amenable to the OP. Apr 19, 2023 at 22:19
  • 6
    Retail versions of WordPerfect (up to at least version 11) should be able to import WordStar files and then re-save them in something that most modern word processors can read (plain text, RTF, WordPerfect, Word). In really old DOS versions the function isn't in the WordPerfect executable itself but rather in a standalone converter called CONVERT.EXE.
    – Psychonaut
    Apr 20, 2023 at 13:05
10

manassehkatz's answer mentions that the 8th bit of the last letter of each word has been set high, so we should be able to clear the high bit in order to get the original text. However, it's not quite obvious what the character encoding of the text in the question is.

Investigation reveals that the text has been decoded as Mac OS Roman or a similar encoding. If we encode the text as Mac OS Roman, clear the high bits, and then decode it again, most of the characters now make sense.

The character † (dagger) changes to a space, and the character ç (c with cedilla) changes to a carriage return, so I've just left those as-is. If I replace all of the other characters, the result is:

††††† D.† Armando Sanchez D!az,† mayor de edad,† casado,† Graduado ç ç
†††††Social,† vecino de esta Ciudad con domicilio a efecto de notifiç ç

I have no explanation for why we end up with "D!az" instead of "Diaz" or "Díaz." Aside from that, this seems like perfectly normal Spanish text: "Mr. Armando Sánchez Díaz, of legal age, married, Graduado Social, resident of this City with address for purposes of notifi..."

8
  • 1
    If this is truly a WordStar file then there is no real concept of character sets - it is simply 7-bit ASCII. Apr 20, 2023 at 22:49
  • 3
    Yes, but the route from 7-bit ASCII “with a sometimes-set 8th-bit “ to Unicode, necessarily via one or more encoding conversion(s), can be very tortuous indeed. Apr 21, 2023 at 1:15
  • @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact a Spaniard or Mexican using WordStar in their own country would have their own character set, no?
    – RonJohn
    Apr 21, 2023 at 4:37
  • 2
    Why do you guess that this is Mac OS Roman? WordStar was never released on a Macintosh system, so why would that be a plausible guess?
    – Schmuddi
    Apr 21, 2023 at 6:28
  • 7
    @Schmuddi It's not just plausible, it's nearly certain. Note that I'm not claiming that WordStar did anything related to Mac OS Roman; what I'm saying happened is that, in the year 2023, when the asker opened up this file to view it, they viewed it using either Mac OS Roman or a similar encoding. And given the way that WordStar uses the high bit, and the letters that those Spanish words end with, the encoding must be one where the characters ÆÔ˙Ú·‰Ó are all encoded the way that they are in Mac OS Roman. Apr 21, 2023 at 11:12

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