Word v3 to .doc (with MacLinkPlus limitations)

Performed a rather straightforward Old Mac file transfer job this weekend, but it highlighted many of the issues involved in the retrieval process, so thought I’d post details here.

My client sent four double-sided (800k) disks containing old research data in Microsoft Word v3 format. Three of the disks were readable right away with my Wallstreet floppy drive, but the fourth disk gave the dreaded “This disk is unreadable, do you wish to Format or Eject” message. Obviously clicking Format was not an option.

I tried the disk in my Quadra 840av, same result, so I fired up the old Mac Plus. This could read it, I have an external 800k floppy on this Plus which is just The Balls. When disks aren’t readable in any other machine, they almost always work in this drive. I will mourn the day it eventually dies…

The files on the Plus now need to join their brethen on the Wallstreet. The 840av serves as a bridge machine, running MacOS 8.1, the (Ethernet to) LocalTalk Bridge Control Panel, and Personal Filesharing. On the Plus the System 6 Chooser will see the Quadra as an AppleShare volume via LocalTalk (PhoneNet). Once transferred to the Quadra, I transfer the files again to the VMM Cube (my central server) via Ethernet. The Cube is accessible to the Wallstreet, so one last copy and all are finally together.

Side Note: I’m running MacOSX 10.3.9 Panther on the Cube with File Sharing Enabled. Panther supports a version of AppleShare IP that works well with all versions of MacOS from 8.1 through the latest releast of 10.5.x Leopard. Just assign your Panther machine a static IP address on your LAN, and connect to it via it’s IP address if it doesn’t show up as an AppleTalk volume. My Cube can talk to every Ethernet (or WiFi) capable Mac in my house running MacOS8 or higher!

Back to the Wallstreet. I fire up MacLinkPlus, the venerable file translation program included free with pre-OS9 Macs. It supports MS Word ’98 and MS Excel ’98 output formats, which are the popular .doc and .xls versions that modern MS Office programs use. I drop the folder full of MS Word v3 files on MacLinkPlus, specify the output folder, click Translate and BAM – hard crash.

Bus Error, hard reboot – not a good sign. Try again, same result. I copy all files to the Quadra 840av, try using an older version of MacLinkPlus on that machine, and again hard crash. Apparently MacLinkPlus does not like MS Word v3 files. Add that to the list, it also doesn’t like Word v1 or Excel v1 or v1.5. I have learned this the hard way.

I will need to use of a combination of manual and batch conversion methods. I can open the Word v3 files in MS Word v5.1a – the best Classic version of Word ever released, IMHO – and resave each one in Word v5 format, which MacLinkPlus does handle. I use Save As… and add the extension .wd5 to each new file, e.g. MyData.wd5, so I’ll later know at a glance the format of these interim files. Tedious but effective. About 100 files total in this case.

Once everything is converted to the interim format, I drag the Word v5 files onto MacLinkPlus. Click Translate and this time in a few minutes I have all the files in modern MS Word format. Except they still don’t have the right file type extensions, and are now named MyData.wd5 (Word98) A trip through a batch renaming program finishes the job, and converts each file to the correctly named MyData.doc

Copy back to the Cube, from there to my Mac Pro, and burn to CD-R. Many steps, but basically a typical conversion job. Old data never dies, it just changes format…

3 responses to “Word v3 to .doc (with MacLinkPlus limitations)”

  1. Adam Rosen says:


    Dave said…
    Word v3 to .doc isn’t that bad … MacWrite to .doc (or anything modern) and preserving graphics is a lot harder. :(
    July 7, 2009 at 3:48 PM

    Adam Rosen said…
    Yeah documents with graphics can be tough. I’ve done MacWrite to .doc using Word v3 as an interim format, but not sure if they had graphics or not. If resolution and editability aren’t important, there’s always the option of taking a screenshot.
    July 7, 2009 at 6:41 PM

    Yuhong Bao said…
    MacLinkPlus can do MacWrite, I think. There is a list of file formats the latest version of MacLinkPlus can translate here: http://www.dataviz.com/products/maclinkplus/mlp_xlators.html
    Notice only Word v4 and later are listed.
    April 10, 2010 at 7:49 PM

  2. Yuhong Bao says:

    Just found that a converter for this format is included with the Value Pack for Word 98:

  3. Yuhong Bao says:

    Word 98 for Mac also includes a Batch Converter too to run them:

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