How do I expand Now Compress archives?
June 12, 2009 8:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find a way to expand a file that's in an ancient Mac archive format (Now Compress).

So I find myself needing to access some files I created back in the mid-1990s. Back then, I had everything on floppies (remember them?) which later on got archived on Jaz discs (remember those?) which were in turn copied over onto cds. There's a bunch of things in those files that I now find myself wanting to access.

Only problem is, most of the files have a ".now" extension. As I recall, that's the extension "Now Compress" used for their archived files. Fort hose that don't remember, Now Compress was part of "Now Utilities", which used to be THE utility package for the Mac back in the OS9 days. Now Compress was sort of Now's "Stuffit" program. It could compress files automatically, create archives, etc. I can barely find information on Google about the old program, let alone any suggestions of how to handle these files nowadays.

So the question is, does anybody know of a program that runs under today's OSX that can expand these files? I'm in a quandry!

Many thanks...
posted by NewGear to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Well, there's this:

"File Name: now-compress-expander-101.hqx (124 k)
Date: Nov 08, 1993
From: (Joe Yan) Subject: [*] Now Compress Expander 1.0.1 Date: Sun, 7 Nov 93 12:03:03 PST Hello, Here is version 1.0.1 of Now Compress's expander program, for decompressing archives compressed by Now Compress. This is to replace version 1.0."

From here, but then of course you'd still need to track down a Mac running something pre-OSX (hopefully this app from 1993 will work with OS 9 (that is, not actually need OS 7.x or 8).

If you have a friend with an old G3 iBook sitting in a closet, you'd probably be able to boot that into OS9 and give it a try. You'd just need to copy the above app and your .now file to a USB thumbdrive.
posted by blueberry at 8:47 PM on June 12, 2009

I remember Jaz discs. Try this; it might work.
posted by jabberjaw at 8:47 PM on June 12, 2009

You might be able to get away with running Now Compress under Classic on a PowerPC Mac running OS X 10.4 or earlier.
posted by strangecargo at 9:18 PM on June 12, 2009

>...Try this [Now Utilities 6.7]; it might work.

Honestly, I worked at Now Software way back when and I think maybe, maybe, Now Utilities was updated to work with OS8. But I think actually trying to install Now Utilities (which loads at startup and thus requires a restart after installation) on a post-OSX Mac running OS9 would be just asking for trouble. Trouble such as totally hosing the Classic system of the very nice person who was letting you borrow their old machine to unstuff your file.

We used to get about 100 people a week "downloading" updates back when I worked at Now—and by downloading, I mean that they'd call us up on the telephone and in those pre-(access-to)-internet days, we'd have to send them out individual 3.5" disks in the mail. And that was just for little things that were throwing a monkey wrench into NU working correctly—if you were using a certain type of Radius monitor, a conflicting extension or control panel, etc—as opposed to over a decade and a half of hardware/software changes.

Again, if you can get your hands on a Mac running Classic, I'd just try the stand-alone 124k app.
posted by blueberry at 9:39 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Unarchiver supports many archive formats, some of them quite old. Worth a shot.
posted by thinman at 9:43 PM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

There are emulators for classic Macs. Well, there's one anyway. vMac runs 7.something so that might help you out.
posted by chairface at 10:14 PM on June 12, 2009

I emailed the creator of The Unarchiver, Dag Agren, and asked him if it supported old Now Compress archives. Here's his reply:

"It can expand Unix compress archives, so if Now Compress uses the same format it should work. If it doesn't, though, I'd love to have some example files so I can see if I can figure out how to make it support them."

So, if you have a boring old non-confidential Now Compress archive file, you might email it off to him in case he could work out a way to support unstuffing the format.
posted by blueberry at 3:02 PM on June 13, 2009

Hey, cool, blueberry! That was very thoughtful of you! (That's one of those methods that never occurs to me: to email a software author.) I'll certainly give your suggestion a try.

Many thanks also to jabberjaw (and blueberry again!) for providing the location of the Now Expander, which I tried to find on my own and failed. I have an old Bronze Powerbook laying around somewhere...although I think it's kaput. I'll try and fire up my old dome iMac and see what OS I have running on there, and will see if Now Expander will run under Classic. I'll keep you posted!

Oh, Ask MeFi, one one of the few kind internet communities left!
posted by NewGear at 3:37 PM on June 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

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