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Reading Sharp disks on an IBM-PC 
written by John Edwards and Maurice Hawes / SUC/UK
Source: SUC-magazine November 1994, Volume 14 Number 3, p. 8 - 9 

We list below the Sharp disk formats that we can now read into an IBM-compatible PC. In some cases, there is more than one way of "killing the cat", but in others we have found only one way; and with MZ-80K format, there seems to be only ONE IBM-compatible computer in the world that can do the job, and that computer belongs to John and requires a program called TELEDISK.

In the process of solving these problems, each of us has gone about things in a different way. John has created a special version of 22NICE, called 22NICEJE, which contains many Sharp disk formats; and Maurice has created a special version of UNIFORM, with a data bank called v113S, which contains a number of Sharp disk formats. Between them, these two programs cover every format except for MZ-5500 CP/M-86; for this, you need ALIENC.

The list below covers all known Sharp formats except for the FDOS disks from the various machines, which are so little used that we have never bothered to investigate the problems.


All the popular MZ-80K systems ( i.e. Basic, ZENDOS, SDOS ) use the same basic 143K format, but their directory structures differ.

We have not found a program which can read individual files of any of these disks into a PC. But, on his 286 IBM-PC ( bought from Reeves in Northampton ), John can use TELEDISK to create one large compressed IBM file of any complete MZ-80K disk, and has written programs in Q-BASIC which can separate, decompress and translate individual files within the TELEDISK file, into ASCII / IBM format.

If you find that your IBM-PC, using TELEDISK, can read MZ-80K disks, John can let you have his special Q-BASIC programs, with instructions, to complete the job. If you cannot do the first essential TELEDISK step on your own PC, contact John for help.

MZ-80A / B / 700 / 800 Basics

At this moment, we do not have any direct method of moving files from these disks onto a PC. But if you can get the file into tape format, it can be transferred onto a CP/M 2.2 disk on the MZ-80A, the MZ-80B or the MZ-700, using FILING CMT; and from there it can be dealt with as a CP/M 2.2 file, see the next paragraph.

MZ-80A / B / 700 CP/M 2.2

These systems share a common format, and in the mid-1980's this was the only Sharp format known to most IBM-PC programmers. As a result, most IBM programs for reading "foreign" disks include this format, usually labeled just "Sharp", or "MZ-80B", and most of them can read the directory and copy individual files of these disks onto an IBM disk. Any subsequent translation needed ( e.g. for lower-case or line feeds ) may be done on the PC with CODETRAN, and we have developed a number of Codetran ".TRN" files for this purpose, which we are happy to supply on request.

UNIFORM, 22NICE, and ALIENC can all read these disks, but 22NICE in its original form requires that the IBM disk drive should be fitted with a head switch to reverse the head order, and ALIENC gives 50K too much free space because it thinks the disk should have 40 tracks. However, Johns 22NICEJE contains options for these formats which do not require a head switch. Therefore our preferred "readers" are UNIFORM and 22NICEJE.

PC-3201 CP/M 2.2

The preferred "reader" is UNIFORM which, as supplied, contains an option with the label Sharp YX-3200; this is the name of the PC-3201 in Japan and America, and it reads the 35-track PC-3201 CP/M format perfectly. No other program can do this.

MZ-3500 CP/M 2.2 ( all versions )

Maurice has created his own MZ-3500 option in UNIFORM, simply by extending the PC-3201 data parameters to cover 40 tracks ( the only difference between PC-3201 and MZ-3500 CP/M disks is in the number of tracks ); this option reads disks from ALL versions of MZ-3500 CP/M. ALIENC will read Sharp / DR disks, but not MicroTechnology disks. Therefore our preferred "reader" is UNIFORM.

MZ-800 PCP/M

UNIFORM does not include this format as such, but Maurice found that its FUJITSU MICRO 16S format seemed to work perfectly. ALIENC does include the format, labeled SHARP 800 DS, but gets the free space slightly wrong. UNIFORM again, but only by a abort head.

MZ-5500 CP/M-86

ALIENC includes this specific format, and it works O.K.

MZ-5500 Sharp MS-DOS

To all intents and purposes, this format is the same as IBM 360K format, and files can be read directly into a PC.

MZ-5600 CP/M-86

For some time this was our "bête noire", but John‘s own 22NICEJE includes this format. Therefore 22NICEJE is our preferred "reader" because it is the only program that can do it !

MZ-5600 Sharp MS-DOS

UNIFORM does not include this format as such, but Maurice found that the MBC SANYO 4050 option seemed to work O.K. Alternatively, John has included it in his 22NICEJE. You pays your money.......


We have now cracked most of the problems. But surely someone else out there must have an IBM-PC which, using TELEDISK, can read MZ-80K disks. Please let us know if you can, or if you want to try it, we are dying of curiosity................................

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last updated August 30, 2002
SUC / UK: John Edwards and Maurice Hawes

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