Dave's Disk Doctor Service
Dave's Disk Doctor Service Ltd was a Limited Company that traded from March 1989 until January 2001 during which it raised nearly £180,000 for many charities. We are grateful for the support of all those individuals and organisations who helped in various ways during this period.The Company ceased trading and was formally wound up on 2nd July 2002.
We were a group of ordinary people with varying levels of computer knowledge and skill who came together over a short period for purely philanthropic reasons primarily to try to help others who were often in great distress at seemingly losing their work when they found they could no longer access the floppy disks on which the work had been saved. We worked together to produce novel, specialist software and hardware tools to recover the “lost” information, drawing wherever possible from (and building upon) the vast amount of Public Domain CP/M Software which was readily and freely available at that time. You can see who we were by clicking here.
The AMSTRAD PCW range of micro computers were very popular personal computer/word processors. Around 2 million of these were sold in the UK and worldwide. Unfortunately, most people using these machines treated them like a typewriter and didn't "back up" their disks. In July 1987 Dave Smith began salvaging data from corrupted Amstrad 3" PCW floppy disks. Initially, satisfied clients were asked to make a donation to the then aptly titled charity "BACUP" (the British Association of Cancer United Patients) later renamed Cancerbacup and now merged with Macmillan Cancer Support.
By March 1989 donations had topped over £7000. At that point, for legal and tax reasons, the operations were taken over by Dave's Disk Doctor Service Ltd. A covenant for 100% of Company profits was made to the Charities Aid Foundation. This allowed UK corporation tax to be recovered and payments to be made to any registered charity. Since that time, the Company raised nearly £180,000, benefiting a wide range of charities.
The Company specialised in the salvage and transfer of data from CP/M floppy disks, particularly those used on the Amstrad PCW, PcW and CPC ranges of computers and word processors. The former usually used the LocoScript family of products. The Company also salvaged floppy disks for PCs and MACs and converted and transferred data between various disk and file formats, handling 3", 3½", 5¼" and even 8" disks! The Company did not salvage hard (internal) disks since these generally require expensive and specialist equipment. Most of the disk corruptions were caused by mains power fluctuations and so to try to mitigate the effects of these the Company also developed and sold a special “BACKUP” program to allow users to more simply operate a “Grandfather/Father/Son” set of disks on which to save and keep their work.
Salvages and transfers were almost always completely successful and were undertaken on a 'no-fix no fee' basis. Usually the work was sent back by 'return of post'. A standard fixed charge was made by the Company if the salvage was successful (however easy or long and difficult the task proved) but Charities, churches or church-related organisations and genuine hardship cases were usually offered special rates by prior arrangement. The profit the Company made was divided annually between a number of Charites of varying sizes, some National, some Local.
Dave has written a short history of the Company, which you can read by clicking here. It is rather technical in places to fully document the very sophisticated tools which were used, but you can skip over these bits and enjoy the pioneering spirit and dedication of all those involved as well as the fascinating and sometimes very moving examples of those helped over the years. An Annex shows the wide publicity achieved by the company in both the National and Local Press.
Last revised: January 2024