The need to preserve data from the BBC Micro days is becoming more and more urgent as time goes by since many of the discs are now well over 35 years old and many will be starting to degrade - if they haven't already. During this weekend's all-day ABug event, the Acorn Preservation Team gave an update on their recent project to recover the data from the original source code discs for several of Matthew Atkinson's games for the BBC Micro including Repton 3
and The Living Daylights
The Acorn Preservation Team are also encouraging anyone who may have some old discs containing anything that is in need of recovery/preservation/archival to get in touch and loan the discs to them to help make sure the data isn't permanently lost. In particular, the team are interested in development discs containing sources, binaries, unreleased/missing/early versions of games and applications for both the BBC and RISC OS platforms.
In the case of Matthew Atkinson's discs, they were passed over to the Acorn Preservation Team a few weeks ago when they turned up here at TIB Towers after having been presumed lost by the author. It turned out that he'd in fact sent them to TIB back in the early 2000s where they were stored for the last fifteen years before turning up during a recent house move.
Once we'd sent the discs over to them, the Acorn Preservation Team set to work recovering the data contained within. This task wasn't entirely straightforward as some discs were showing the effect of their advancing age. One disc had damage that looked like it had seen an impact at some point in its life and sported a dent covering around 11 tracks of data. Despite this, the team were able to recover almost all of the data from the 22 disc set using a variety of methods including flux-level readings and analysing low level analogue signals from the discs. At the time of writing, only a handful of tracks from the dented disc remain to be recovered and are still being actively worked on. The data recovered so far has been provided back to Matthew Atkinson to have a look through and decide what he'd like to do with the soruces next.
Phil Pemberton and Chris Evans talk about the process of recovering data from Matthew Atkinson's source discs at this weekend's ABug event
The ABug talk from the Acorn Preservation Team will be made available through both the ABug website
and their new YouTube channel
in the near future along with a talk by Matthew Atkinson himself on the history of his BBC Micro and Archimedes development days.
If you have any old discs in need of preservation, whether BBC Micro era or Archimedes/RISC OS, the Acorn Preservation Team urge you to get in touch via the Stardot forums
or the Software Preservation channel in the Stardot Discord Server
before it's too late and the data's gone forever.