Can this old CD ROM be resurrected?
June 26, 2012 5:59 AM   Subscribe

Dear AskMe tech folks- there's an older CDROM out there that was designed to play and display on the IBM 286, Mac II, and Mac LC. Is there a tool, emulator, or hack out there that would allow me to play and view it on my current Apple (running OSX)?

The catch here is that the CD doesn't just have an early video game on it, for example, which might be easier to render- it has a lot of photos. I'm fine with not being able to copy and save them, new skool style, and maybe take screenshots instead, but I'm afraid they'll be wildly distorted.

Ive seen this question but am afraid I don't have the chops to understand the basics of what the poster is talking about.

If you have any experience with this sort of thing and have advice to offer I'd be grateful!
posted by foxy_hedgehog to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
I think it really depends on what's on the CD. Can you mount it (i.e. view the files in finder)?

Naming the CDROM might help.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:13 AM on June 26, 2012

It's the Murmurs of Earth CD ROM, which has all kinds of stuff from the Voyager expedition, including the material on the Golden Record. It was issued by Warner New Media in 1992. It looks like there are a couple of torrent versions available on the web but I'm a little paranoid of scams and viruses and etc. and I don't know if the content qould be useable or of good quality.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:54 AM on June 26, 2012

Oh, and I don't have the CD so I'm not sure I can mount it- I'm trying to decide if I should track it down and buy it.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:54 AM on June 26, 2012

Without knowing more it's hard to say. You could certainly emulate a 286 machine. One of the last Motorola based Macs with a Classic install might also work (this likely means buying a G4 mini.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:54 AM on June 26, 2012

This blog from 2006, referencing a yet older post, suggests the disc is readable in recent machines, and the audio is AIFF, but the images required use of a proprietary viewer--runs in OS 9 (Classic) but not OS X. That means that getting the disc or a torrent of it is only half the problem

The audio was in regular CD (AIFF) format, and posed no problem, but the images were in a proprietary format, with DOS and Apple executables to display and browse them. The Apple application runs with difficulty under OS 9 and not at all under OS X, and i haven’t had any luck so far getting the DOS application to run; i think it has something to do with the applications requiring only 256 colours and 640×480 pixels. Therefore, i’ve ported all the image files over. I used the newly standard, and free, PNG format, because that’s the kind of guy i am; JPEGs at 50% compression would have been less bulky, but with imperfect image fidelity. I also added several images: the opening screen from the original browser; images 032b and 071b, which the publishers had to leave out of the CD-ROM for reasons of copyright or modesty, but which appear in the 1978 book; two images of the diagram on the Voyager record jackets; and scans from the CD-ROM cover and insert.

The author of the blog obtained the converted material from the earlier poster: you may still be able to take him up on his offer:

I found his email online and asked him to send me a copy, which he graciously did. So, friends of mine, if you would like a copy, let me know. I can let you borrow mine or something.

If you do, please consider letting us know how it went--this sounds fascinating.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:01 AM on June 26, 2012

Wow! I hope he's still reachable but will give him a try- in the meantime, would love to hear any other ideas.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 7:39 AM on June 26, 2012

Look here for some emulators that will run on OSX. I use Boxer for DOS emulation which might load the 286 version. Basilisk II and Mini vMac are both decent emulators for old Macs. You may be in luck in that the LC(II, III, III+) series are among the best Macs to emulate with Basilisk. I've had good luck but they are a little tricky to get working the first time around. You have to find a soft copy of the ROM of the machine you want to emulate for example, but it's not too hard if you Google around a bit.

That sounds like a cool disc. Let us know how it works out.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:09 AM on June 26, 2012

If you can get access to the images, you might want to try Graphic Converter (free trial) to see if it can open them and save in a more open format.
posted by tommasz at 8:41 AM on June 26, 2012

I was going to suggest Graphic Converter, too. It is the Swiss Army knife of graphics format handlers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:16 AM on June 26, 2012

The blogger sent me a zip file of the converted CD Rom and all the pictures I was hoping for open properly in preview! Thanks, Suffalupagus!
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:12 AM on June 27, 2012

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