A few months back I was able to win an auction containing eight floppy disks containing software for Protel payphones. Two of these disks contain previously unarchived versions of Protel’s ExpressNet software (used for programming payphones via a DOS PC), while the rest contain bunch of payphone firmware files (some also unarchived).

The Protel floppy disks.

While I thought about trying to backup these disks myself, it had been a while since I had done it and I have no idea if my disk drives are in good condition, if the disks would read properly, or if there was any pesky copy protection to deal with. Luckily, I knew the perfect person to go to for this job.

I first met Dan (aka danc256) at a Philly 2600 meeting many years back. Dan knows how to backup a disk. You may think that you know how to back up a disk, but I assure you that after talking to Dan, you do not. Listening to Dan talk about how he ripped and cracked the copy protection of a piece of software is akin to listening to a musician come up with a hit song right in front of you. He knows why a Sony MPF920-D floppy drive may be preferable to other models, he knows where in the disk data to check to see what machine was used in duplication, and he knows that PC disks use MFM which includes a CRC16 to assure data was read properly. If the disk has anti-piracy features, he knows what to look for to crack the software. If his preferred disk imager, the Applesauce, is missing a needed feature, he is in contact with the developer.

Dan set up his laptop, Applesauce, and disk drive on a picnic table at the Septemeber 2600 meet.

I knew that these disks were in good hands with Dan, so we connected at the most recent Philly 2600 meeting and he was able to backup all the disks on the spot with no unforeseen issues. Luckily, the disks were in good condition and didn’t have any unsavory security features! Dan went ahead and uploaded them to the Internet Archive where they are now freely available for download and use by payphone aficionados worldwide!

You can download the disks here.

Do you have any payphone related software on floppy disks or otherwise? We’ll work with you to get it preserved and online, just let us know!