Retrieving XyWrite files

Yep, that’s what I’m going to be doing this week–retrieving files I wrote using XyWrite, which was a fabulous word processing program written by some of the guys that brought you Atex, the typesetting system I learned in the early 1980s.

I went looking for my old short stories and discovered that I had totally effed up putting them on my last computer from the one before that. So I dug up my old Sony Vaio over the weekend, as well as some 3.5 inch floppy disks that had my writing directories backed up, and brought them to work with me. One of the help desk techs gave me an external floppy drive reader that connects to your computer with a USB drive. I pulled the stories off the floppies while he got the full directories (in case I’d missed anything) as well as anything else I felt I needed from the hard drive. Turned out to be about a gig worth of stuff, and it also turns out that in my WRITE directory is a little file called “editor.exe”, and it’s the XyWrite editor.

So then I went to the head systems genius and asked him to help me see if I could get a DOS emulator somewhere, and he showed me how to use Windows to do it. And lo and behold, XyWrite was booted up, and I remembered that to open a file you type “CA FILENAME” in the header, and that you use the F5 key to alternate between header and file, and SA saves and QUIT, well, quits.

So I’m going to copy/paste all of my old, unfinished stories, see which ones are worth resurrecting, edit where needed, and send them out to various magazines. If they don’t sell to magazines, I’ll be producing them as ebooks, and maybe a chapbook, since I know how to do it.

I am totally geeking out on XyWrite, though. I never got rid of the manuals. And I even have the little keyboard chart you stick over the function keys.

It’s going to be a lot of fun to rediscover my old work.

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4 Responses to Retrieving XyWrite files

  1. Wow, a very cool geek moment. Enjoy it. :)

  2. Passerby says:

    Ha… Something similar happened to me recently. An old backup tape (yes, a tape; I won’t get technical… or nostalgic) which had a lot of documents on it got discarded by mistake and I was forced to try to recover many of them from their original versions, in Wordstar (that must date me, eh?), MS-Word (for DOS !), WordPerfect (also for DOS) and, among a couple of other obscure formats, you guessed it… XyWrite! Actually more fun than I expected. Almost like revisiting on an old hometown where one grew up… Fond memories. Good luck!

  3. Michael Lonie says:

    I took a class once on using Maple and C++ in Physics (undergrad). The prof and I reminisced a while on using punched cards for data input. The kids in the class, of course, thought we were daft and hadn’t a clue what we were talking about.

  4. CGHill says:

    I remember XyWrite, though I was a WordPerfect partisan all through the DOS days. I switched to Ami Pro when Windows befell me; renamed WordPro when Lotus bought it, it’s still on this old box.

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