Sonntag, 28. November 2021

Detectorist - Part one "First indications"

First indications

In an estate there are several CDROMs, DVDs and especially floppy disks. We were able to read most of them with Linux, including the floppy disks. Only on the last 8 floppy disks did we have a hard time. 

On one of the floppy disks a small inscription peeked out, referring to a Panasonic electronic typewriter. There was none in the estate, no other information was available. 

Eight floppy disks, 3,5", double density, not readable. 

Time passed, constantly haunted by the voice in my mind: "There's something on the disks, only what?" 

We managed to purchase a Kryoflux controller (see, there are also free opensource alternatives). This is a special disk controller that allows you to record the magnetic flux as the read heads move over the disk.


After the first attempts, I was able to create an image file with the following command:

./dtc -fIMAGEFILE -dd1 -g2 -i4

The options mean:

  • "-dd1" - double density
  • "-g2" - double sided
  • "-i4" - MFM sector image 40/80+ tracks


A look at the image using the hex editor showed that I was right with my intention. After the first three zero bytes, the string "KX-W1510 v1.00" followed (and to my happy surprise, a lot of readable text fragments). 

Yep, there is exactly one electronic typewriter series from Panasonic.


I was able to find a manual at And yes, the machine used 3.5" floppy disks, double sided, double density with a capacity of 713,000 characters, but unfortunately without an exact description of the disk format and the file system.

I then contacted Panasonic support - no success. I started researching patent databases in Japan, the USA and Germany - nothing. I wrote to the Panasonic museum in Japan, but unfortunately they could not help me.

A proprietary disk format, which was forgotten after 30 years.

In the next part I report what I could find out about the disk system of the Panasonic typewriter KX-W1510, and where I (still) fail...