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back to article Lost artworks by Andy Warhol found on 80s-era FLOPPY DISKS

The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has recovered a trove of previously unknown works by the pop-art pioneer from an unexpected, yet suitably modern source: a set of Commodore Amiga floppy disks. The artworks date back to 1985, when Commodore commissioned Warhol to help demonstrate the graphics capabilities of its …

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It's pretty damn cool that everything in that last photo is in my pocket and the porn is fantastic too!

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You actually have a decent paint program on your phone?

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Actually.....

Autodesk Sketchbook Mobile for the Samsung Note range of phones is pretty good and makes good use of the pen.

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Re: Actually.....

Established artist experimenting with consumer tech?

Reminds me of David Hockey's iPhone pictures:

http://www.hockneypictures.com/iphone_pages/iphone_etcetera-01.php

Especially in light of the OP's point about the kit shown in the last photo being present in many pockets these days.

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Sorry Neil McAllister.

"But reading from disks that were almost 30 years old was no mean feat."

I'm sorry. It is actually a simple matter, and there are lots of Amiga machines around too. It is also no surprise that the disks were mostly readable. That's how it was, and still is. I have some stacks of various formats of floppy disks as well as three different drives right in front of me now. This stuff is neither rare nor difficult, and this being an IT site I don't expect articles written with a non-computer literate audience in mind.

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

I recently went on an archeological expedition of my oldest back up floppies and CD's. Not Amiga era, but mid to late nineties, but nearly all were OK despite being cheap no-name junk. One floppy and two CDs had read errors out of, I don't know, maybe a hundred.

Back in the day it was said that floppies would de-magnetize and CDs would develop holes in the aluminum film over a period of just some years, but I guess no one told them that.

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

agreed.. I still have GCR encoded C64 floppies... read just fine (some don't)

I read on another side (guardian? bbc? can't effing remember) that part of the problem was that warhol had been kitted out with pre-release hardware and software.. so the image formats themselves weren't even (directly/easily) readable by anything that was ever released...

ah, yes, here it is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27141201

how much is propaganda when it comes to anything warhol related is questionable though..

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

Agreed. Just a few months ago I was demonstrating Big 5 Galaxy Invaders loaded from original cassette tape on a Video Genie (TRS-80 Model 1, Level II clone).

There is a thriving vintage computing community and many, many people are aware and able to read old data. Maybe the author should read the recent Reg articles on Bletchly and The National Museum of Computing.

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

The old floppies keep their data well, but later floppies were cheap shite.

Up to about 10 years ago I worked in a place that had two very old PCs that weren't on the network, but I had to take a manifest off one & put it on the other. As they were ancient NT 3.1 machines there were no USB ports, so 3.5" floppies were the only available option.

The PCs were about 200 metres apart, and I'd say about 50% of the time I'd have CRC errors on the floppies when I tried to read them back in the second PC, and these were brand new, straight from the box discs

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

Most probably your issue wasn't sh!te floppies, but really sh!te drives...

The latter years of 3.5" drives were so unreliable that you could sometimes be amazed that they managed to hit the floor if you dropped them...

The stuff they sell as USB-based drives today?

AAAARGH!

I've started to bring 'findings' from the office home with me for analysis instead of trying to read them in the USB-based drive. (I have a 'fair collection' of 3.5" and 5.25" drives that I can trust at home. I also have Zip, Jaz, Clik! and a host of other formats, even a MD Data drive. No Bernoulli or LS120 drives, though.)

The Cryoflux was new to me, though.

hope shipping doesn't take too long...

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

@Lazlo Woodbine - did you clean the drive heads? Or perhaps one of the drives was borderline mis-aligned?

I never did understand the design "feature" that placed the most dust-sensitive component directly in front of the power supply, dragging air through it and out the back.

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

Both PCs were in clean rooms, so dust wasn't the issue, and when I dug out some old disks they worked fine, hence my feeling that Imation branded floppy discs manufactured post 2002 were crap...

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

I have several dozen 5.25" floppy disks that were created on my BBC micro ~30 years ago, and I am finding that a significant of them now have difficulty being read. The main problem is that the adhesive that is holding the oxide to the Mylar disk is breaking down, so each time I read a disk, I have to clean the drive!

The disks I have are mainly BASF, with some Verbatim and Nashua.

This is probably because they are truly 'floppy', and were not protected as well as the 3.5" hard-cased disks that the Amiga used.

I tried to embark on a process of capturing the disk images, but stopped when I had difficulty finding any new blank double sided double density floppies.

I now need to look at either reading them on a BEEB and squirting them over an RS/232 link (I think I have a PC with one of those left, and I came across the strange 5 pin DIN to 25 way D cable that I used to use, although I'll probably have to find a 9-25 way converter and a null-modem).

The alternative is finding a 5.25" DSDD floppy disk drive for a PC!

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

No, as other news outlets and comments have said, the software was all pre-release, and the format had to be reverse engineered by the students. If it was simply a matter of starting an emulator or getting an Amiga down from the loft, there would have been no university involvement.

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Re: @Peter Gathercole

"I tried to embark on a process of capturing the disk images, but stopped when I had difficulty finding any new blank double sided double density floppies"

Don't do that - make an image of the whole disk, for example using 'dd' or some Windows equivalent, and then you can present a copy of said image to a VM running an emulator to extract the files (assuming it is a weird file system format). For example:

dd if=/dev/fd0 of=~/Documents/image-1.dat conv=noerror

Even if you need to make real floppies again, you can 'dd' back from the stored and backed up images you made.

Just remember though that 'dd' is nicknamed 'destroy data' because of the tragic consequences of getting source and destination confused!

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Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

I noticed the other day that the free image viewer Irfan view is actually capable of displaying Amiga IFF/LBM files

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sorry Neil McAllister.

my drive is never floppy

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Warhol's production line

Matt Wrbican: "...who had spent about 50 years developing a specific hand-to-eye coordination now suddenly grappling with the bizarre new sensation of a mouse..."

Quite a lot of Warhols were produced by assistants who worked according to his instructions. While using a mouse surely was new to him, not using his hand-to-eye coordination wasn't. Nor do I believe that it was frustrating, well, maybe not being able to physically sign? Then again, what do I know about Warhol.

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Facepalm

>"to be extra careful they enabled a switch on the KryoFlux that physically disables the write pin on the floppy drive."

Real geeks write data to the medium in play with the tip of a magnetized, hand-held needle--none of this jam-tart read and write head stuff, no!

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...and when we finally get bored and use a spinning rust disk we set the gap between the head and the disk with fag paper.

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Go

XKCD

As usual, XKCD is on target http://xkcd.com/1360

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Re: XKCD

Excellent!

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Trollface

I can't describe filesystem corruption...

... but I know it when I see it.

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Coat

Re: I can't describe filesystem corruption...

So a bit like pr0n then?

Mine's the dirty mac with the profanasaurus in the pocket.

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Windows

880 KiB on the 3.5'' floppy

My first box of ten floppy was Nashuatec-branded....

It's like it was yesterday.

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Re: 880 KiB on the 3.5'' floppy

72KiB on a single sided 5 1/4" floppy, Verbatim brand, RM 380z, 1982

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Not that easy

They have clearly made life harder from themselves by not wanting to just stick the disks in an old Amiga and read them, but given that at the time the Amiga had a reputation for losing it's directory information that's not such an unwise move. Besides if you did what would you do with it? I guess you could load the files into Deluxe Paint and then email them out of the Amiga. But you couldn't write them out as anything sensible.

I also seem to remember that the Amiga used variable speed floppies. I'm not certain on this and should be - I was the Editor of Amiga Computing magazine for years - but if it is the case you'd not be able to put the discs into a conventional drive and read them.

There are a couple of other issues which make this less straightforward than you might think. One is the Amiga graphics file format ILBM (interleaved bitmap mode), Photoshop used to support this - at least to CS3, another is the HAM (hold and modify) display format which was run-length-encoded to give a 4096 colour display with 8 bits per pixel.

It wasn't just pre-A1000 launch that Warhol worked with C= There was definitely something at an event I went to in New York which was post A500 and had prototype A2000s runing 68020s where Warhol did some stuff with a digitising tablet. I remember chatting to Dean "Lucky Stars" Freidman at that.

But it's not just computer memory which is fading...

Simon

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Re: Not that easy

It would be perfectly simple to save these files in an non-Amiga specific format using an Amiga. I don't recally my Amiga having problems working with JPGs or PNGs. It's also fairly trivial to get the Amiga to use MS-DOS formatted floppies, so no need to worry about how you'd get the files off of the Amiga either.

It's true that it wouldn't be possible to read these discs using a standard PC floppy drive, but there are ways to connect an old Amiga floppy drive to a PC and get that to read the discs instead.

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Re: Not that easy

Probably the least simple thing about it would be finding a still-working Amiga floppy drive if my experience is anything to go by!

A500, A600, A1200 - owned all three, and every single one of them had to have the drive replaced at least once (I think it was three times on the A1200!)

It's not like I was trying to ram slices of toast or something in there...

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Re: Not that easy

@Simon: Of course these are disks which should be treated with the utmost respect, and that requires great care. It is however not difficult to copy the disks in a safe manner on any number of machines. In any case, many people seem to forget that the Amiga is not gone. There are thousands of fans who live this stuff every day because it is fun to do so. A quick e-mail would have gotten results in a short time. The expertise is fresh and available. It sounds like you're not that far removed from it either. Thirty years is not much in the world of technology except for very young people who weren't there and chose to ignore, or don't have access to, some of the older stuff. There seems to be some people who think that this older technology has dropped off the planet. It hasn't. You can still buy new paper tape for goodness sake - although that is getting near the horizon.

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Re: Not that easy

er - I think you'll find it is possible to read amiga disks with a PC floppy drive - you just need the right sort of controller behind it. I worked for a company in the early 90s that did exactly that, saving images of amiga,commodore,spectrum and amstrad games to PC format files, for writing back to blank media at a later time - these came off 5.25", 3.5", amstrad 3" and cassette. There were PCs in John Menzies & WH Smith shops, usually hidden under the tills, that would write the games back to blank media on the spot, so that the shops didn't have to carry loads of stock, just blank media and inlays.

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Re: Not that easy

Unless there's a head crash, inserting old Amiga floppy disks into an old Amiga disk drive shouldn't damage them. There is a chance that if the data is magnetically "faded" (not sure what the correct term for this is) then it could be flipped by the read head but in this case the data is probably knackered anyway. Still, the caution that they exhibited wasn't entirely unwarranted given the potential value of what may be on them.

Amiga disks didn't operate with a variable speed, that was a feature of the Macintosh systems. The actual physical disk drive components used by the Amiga 3 1/2" SD floppy disk drives and PC 3 1/2" SD drives were the same it was the interfaces that were different. The biggest problem was that PC operating systems were designed such that supporting other formats other than their own was very difficult. AmigaOS, on the other hand, had a very flexible disk operating system and supported different formats with relative ease. Most problems with this support came down to supporting the primitive file systems and their inefficient use of disk space - e.g. 8.3 uppercase formatted file names compared to case-capable but case insensitive full length file names, 720k capacity compared to 880k. While annoying it is easy enough to copy content from an Amiga to a PC using an SD floppy disk, although if you want to preserve file names then it's a good ideal to compress the content into an archive file of some form - lha and lzh are supported by many PC archive applications. Other transfer alternatives are null modem cables and the huge number of transfer suites that are, or were, available for this, and even IPv4 networking if you have the patience to get it working. One of the most useful tools I remember was software that mounted an FTP site as just another drive in the Amiga - this allowed you to relatively painlessly copy files to and from a FTP server using whatever application you wanted.

Converting data from the majority of IFF files, which encompassed ILBM and a lot of other formats, is not a particularly troublesome task given even basic coding skills. Again there are a few tools still going that help with this.

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Re: Not that easy

The catweazel controller will read Amiga disks on a PC, now you just need to find a working PC floppy drive :)

https://amigakit.leamancomputing.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=206

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Re: Not that easy

"I also seem to remember that the Amiga used variable speed floppies."

Macs used variable speed floppy drives. Amigas just had a different sector format and most PC drives can't read the disks because of bios / firmware issues. I've read of DOS software called disk2fdi which can control a PC floppy drive to extract the data but only when it's set up in a certain way.

There is a small but potentially lucrative market for anyone who could produce and sell USB device consisting of a floppy drive and controller that could recover data from old Amiga & Mac floppies in a relatively straightforward fashion. Other solutions are too expensive or too fiddly or both.

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Re: Dean "Lucky Stars" Freidman

Damn you! That's one of my most hated 70s nightmares that'll be rattling around my brain for a couples of hours. GRRR!

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Re: "...small but potentially lucrative market..."

http://www.kryoflux.com/

Boards are around 100 Euro, need a good working floppy drive as well. They also sell them, but I'm guessing the 999 Euro for a 5.25" drive is an "out of stock" indicator, rather than a "we take the piss" one.

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Re: Not that easy

...or you could just load the files on a networkable Amiga, and copy them to a modern PC.

...or you could load them to a compact flash card using the PCMIA port on an Amiga 1200 and copy them to a PC that way.

then just view them in a free bit of software like Irfan view. Easy!

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Re: Not that easy

Not really - I have two in the garage.

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Re: Not that easy

HAM images are not a problem on PC's. I used to capture HAM8 images on my A1200 using a VIDI and then import them into Paint Shop Pro on a Windows PC (PSP happily read IFF files). Used to reproduced perfectly.

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Re: Not that easy

Oh crikey, I remember those. You could never get the tapes to load. Bought The Flintstones and Everyone's A Wally from the Bournemouth John Menzies when on holiday. No amount of jiggery pokery would get those tapes to load. I later discovered this was a common experience.

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"No doubt he resisted the urge to physically touch the screen"

what about licking?

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So, they had such difficulty getting data from 30 year old storage, but they expect me to buy the whole "eternal digital storage" tripe?

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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturevideo/artvideo/10408677/David-Hockney-unveils-his-iPad-art.html

There was an excellent exhibition at Louisiana a year or two ago of these works, suitably displayed on walls of iPhones and IIRC iPads too.

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How I might have done it

Use specialist kit to make a duplicate of the precious floppy onto a number of floppies.

Get a bunch of Amiga fans to volunteer ancient equipment. let them loose with the duplicates until they can get the requisite image up on screen.

Take photo of screen, since we are talking about copying the work.

(The actual work of art is Warhol's file displayed on an Amiga. Changing format and putting it on a modern computer is as much a copy as photocopying one of the original products of the Factory.)

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Sharp PA-W1400 "Word Processor"

I had a similar problem with my father's "word processor" when it died (floppy drive no longer reading disks) and then I found out he had important stuff saved over about 20 years without any other copies (he did have two floppies for each important set, but they were both in Sharp-specific format which he though could be read elsewhere).

Reading the disks was the first challenge, because virtually none of our PCs had a floppy drive. They were in 720kB format and I made images of the floppies using one of our old Linux boxes that actually recognised a disk was present.

They were flaky formatted ones that a VM Windows 95 refused to understand, so it had to be actual DOS 6.22 VM to 'read' them, and that occasionally crashed due to cross-linked files showing up and endless loops. chkdsk sort of fixed that, so files could be found.

But they were mostly in Sharp PA-W1400 ".doc" format as my father had never seen the need to export in ASCII, and Sharp could not tell me what that format was, so I had to look in there with a hex editor and could see mostly recognisable stuff, so ended up writing a small program to parse them and convert what I could identify as special character sequences in to UTF-8 for things like "1/2" and so on.

A lesson there...

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Re: Sharp PA-W1400 "Word Processor"

You didn't try to replace the drive in the Sharp, then?

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Re: Sharp PA-W1400 "Word Processor"

I did, but it was using non-standard connections (compared to my 3.5" PC drives).

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I still have a number of magazine freebie disks that contained files for Amiga, Atari and PC, so I am certain that even if the Amiga did use variable speed drives (I dont think so), it would only require a software program to read the raw data and convert it.

(A500 (with 1MB vRAM hack), and 200MB HDD/2MB RAM sidekick in loft (+hundreds of disks), waiting for collectors prices to rise).

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The art isn't really that great though

It's hardly the loading screen for Shadow of the Beast now is it!

I remember rescuing loads of MOD-tracker songs I'd written on the Atari ST and Amiga, had to format discs in MSDOS format and copy the files from the original floppies to those, load those into a PC, copy them all to a USB memory stick, then load that onto my Mac. Took quite a while but was an interesting process to get them there.

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Moon Photos too

While interesting story I was more impressed by this story about the recovery of moon photos

http://www.wired.com/2014/04/lost-lunar-photos-recovered-by-great-feats-of-hackerdom-developed-at-a-mcdonalds/

Both stories however show the fragility of electronic data where recovering media produced in my lifetime is now only obtained after considerable effort. Probably a luxury not afforded to my descendants if they wish to recover my missives after my demise(which maybe is not a bad thing)

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