converting obsolete file types
June 15, 2006 8:31 PM   Subscribe

How do I convert antique files to a more modern format?

I have several files from an obsolete program (MSWorks 2.0a, ca. 1991) that I suddenly need to have converted to a format that can be opened with a more current word processor, without losing all the formatting and notes. How do I do this? Are there any services out there that can do it with quick turnaround? I'd thought I found a place that would do it, but I haven't heard anything from them for a couple of days and there's a time limit.
posted by dilettante to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
The only thing I know about these people is that they were one of my first search results, but maybe it's worth a try? If it doesn't work, it appears that you're only out ten or twenty bucks.
posted by box at 8:39 PM on June 15, 2006

Best answer: MacLink Plus is the "swiss army knife" of format conversion tools.
posted by Mr. Six at 8:40 PM on June 15, 2006

Wow, is MacLink Plus still going? That was always an amazing program for me. I'd give it a try for sure.
posted by unSane at 9:45 PM on June 15, 2006

posted by Sharcho at 3:52 AM on June 16, 2006

MS Works is just old. COBOL is antique.

Just open the files in Word, or doesn't Word open that early a version of Works files?
posted by caddis at 5:03 AM on June 16, 2006

If it were me, I would get a copy of VMware, a couple of old MS DOS install disks, and then hunt around on various file sharing sites or ebay and find the Works installation disks. From there you can just install it and run it under vmware.

Another alternative is to try the 16 bit Write app that came bundled with Windows 3.0/3.1. Or the first version of Word for Windows (6.0).
posted by Rhomboid at 2:32 PM on June 16, 2006

BTW, if you want I can provide a VMware image of an ancient DOS+Windows 3, if you think it would be helpful. (There is a free VMware player if you don't have the full product.)
posted by Rhomboid at 3:01 PM on June 16, 2006

Response by poster:
Assorted answers and updates:

box and Sharcho: I tried using the online version, but it only worked for one of the three documents (the one I really didn't need, as it turned out). Oh well. I've written to the email address on the site to describe the problem. Thanks for the research, though.

caddis, current versions of Word won't open a Works file this old. They can open it in plain text, but that mangles the formatting and strips the footnotes or endnotes.

RhomboidI actually have the hard drive, 3.1, Works and all. So I can open the files, I just can't print them or send them along to anyone else to open, and that's what I need to do. I probably should have said. Many thanks for the offer, though.
posted by dilettante at 7:08 PM on June 18, 2006

Does MS Works have an option to "Save As" in plain text or something?

Another idea is to install a PostScript printer driver.
In the Windows printer configuration, you can configure the port as FILE: instead of LPT1: (pararllel port) or whatever.
Also there quite a few DOS utilities that can redirect the output of LPT1 to a file.

Once you have the PostScript file, you should have no problem printing it, or converting it to PDF (ps2pdf utilities).
posted by Sharcho at 12:02 PM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: Plain text killed endnotes/footnotes, so that didn't work - I'd tried it earlier.

However, I finally followed the link given in this answer. I don't have a Mac, but it turned out that the company also makes a Windows equivalent called Conversions Plus. It cost a bit, but it worked pretty well.

Thanks again for all the help!
posted by dilettante at 1:45 PM on June 20, 2006

Interesting. There are no links in that answer. However, I am glad you found a potential solution.
posted by caddis at 10:26 PM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: Sorry, this company, from this answer.
posted by dilettante at 3:15 PM on June 28, 2006

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