Wordstar migration to MS Word

The issue

Migration of files in one format to another format (from a different format family) can damage the content of the file.


Wordstar 6 migration - original Wordstar 6 migration - MS Word 97


Wordstar 6 migration – MS Word 97

Explanation by A. Brown of Parliamentary Archives UK: “The images arose from some experiments carried out in the late 1990s into migration, as we had a large archive of Wordstar documents, and our current desktop software was MS Word 97. Word at the time provided an add-in, giving extra filters for opening and saving in a wider range of formats than was provided as standard (as far as I’m aware, support for Wordstar was removed altogether in later versions of Word). For this experiment, I simply installed the add-in, then opened the document in Word, and subsequently saved in .doc format.

The mystery characters at the end of each word appear because Wordstar only used 7 bit ASCII, reserving the 8th bit for other purposes, including indicating word endings. The MS Word filter clearly didn’t allow for this, and tried to interpret as 8 bit ASCII.”

Can we prevent this?

Before migrating files, it is essential that a test of the migration shows that no information is lost or unintendently added. In this case the experiment with the tool made the outcome clear.


This image was published by Adrian Brown at Flickr