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Sony WDD-931 12" WORM Drive


Veteran Member
Oct 22, 2008
Kamloops, BC, Canada
Through some incredible logistics I negotiated a deal and when I went to VCF East last month I had filled my luggage with a cardboard box and extra packaging so that this could be carefully packed and flown back home as checked baggage.




There is nearly nothing that exists about this on the Internet. A news article archived from 1992 explains about all that's known to exist:
-6.55gb of storage per side (13.1gb per disc)
-Drive has a sustained transfer rate of 900KB/s
-SCSI-2 interface
-The multi-disc jukebox model is the WDA-E330. Total capacity is 78.6gb in 12 discs. (The math on that does not add up because I guess it only uses one side of each disc which sounds incredibly wasteful....)
-Supports internal drive caching with expandable memory

It turns on and when I fed it a NOS cartridge and needed persuasion because both the loading belt was slipping (my CRVdisc recorder is the same transport design and has the same problem. Techmoan unknowingly had the same issue) and the transport load switch was sticking. Otherwise it spun the disc up and seemed to go ready. Has a passthrough for SCSI and a second set of Centronics connectors to attach other drives. Dip switches on the front allow you to assign both the SCSI ID, termination and the LUN.

-Win 9x just calls it an Unknown Device
-XP sees it as a Sony WORM device but does not treat like a storage device
-MacOS (8.5) likewise identifies it as a Sony WORM drive but does not support it as a volume. Did not try with the HDToolkit or Lido
-I have not checked to see if something like Removable Storage Manager on windows Server sees it as an archival WORM device

No supplementary software or drivers seem to exist. No documentation seems to exist either.
What does Linux make of it?

I can find only software mentioned for DEC systems and the like. Given the cost of the thing in 1992, that may have been the primary market. You might want to see CorelSCSI has something that will work. Otherwise, you'll be in the same boat that I was in when I received a pile of Panasonic WORM media and drives. I wrote my own retrieval software.

I suspect that OptiSys and/or OptiDisk may work with one. Good luck finding software. Not that long ago, I talked about the problems of WORM--it's that "write once" that makes things complicated. I suppose you could get Linux to write a tar backup on a sector-by-sector basis.

How many discs did you get with it? Remember, that if you mess up writing one, that goes into the dustbin--they are, AFAIK, not reusable.
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I received no discs with it but back in 2012 or so there was four on ebay for $50 each so me and a friend split it 50/50 and I have two unused discs.

No I have not tried it on Linux yet.
I still have a few blank 5.25" phase-change disks for the Panasonic drive, as well as a mess of written ones. I have no interest in keeping either, but the LF-5010 drives are pretty uncommon, so likely orphans.
There was a utility called "wormdos" that ran under DOS for some of these WORM devices. What the purveyors of WORM never mentioned is that unless you're doing a single-session write (like a standard CD-R), dynamic file systems are incredibly wasteful on WORM, since nothing, not even the file directory can be erased. Usually the technique as to reserve a certain amount of space for a file directory, then reserve additional unused space after that to hold copies of the directory as it's updated. Then, the procedure is to search backward in that space until the first non-blank (i.e. written) block is found, which represents the last copy of the data.
Note that nothing can actually be erased--so WORM is great for maintaining copies whose integrity is solid.
WORM MO is great for dumping old drivers and floppy images as long as you fill it up in one go. I have a few IBM 3363 WORM drives (2 mounted in PS/2 Model 80's and an external one with ISA controller card) and I don't think they are normal SCSI interface.

I prefer the rewritable MO SCSI drives especially when you have more than one drive and a bunch of media.

That drive you have is very impressive but finding software that supports it will be hard.
It's SCSI, so at some level, it supports a standard SCSI command set. But with only one disc to fool with, I don't see where it makes any sense to try. It's not as if you have access to a bunch of pre-recorded discs or a surplus of blank ones. The code I wrote to retrieve data from the Panasonic WORM was pretty straightforward SCSI-wise; all you had to be aware of is that there are three possible error status values - no error, media error and not written.

I don't recall if I used boring old MSDOS with ASPI driver or Linux gscsi.
I don't really have a desire to be writing data to otherwise unused discs that I cannot afford to replace so rest assured I am in no rush to see data being written. :)
It's more I'd like to read up on the product and see what utilities WERE available.
I would try to see if SCSIworks! can work with the drive/media in MS-DOS. The documentation states that it works with magneto optical and WORM devices.
Probably. The question is what will you see--a single-write-only device (i.e. streaming backup like tar) or something with an actual filesystem? My investigation into SCSIWorks says the former. There's a package for VAX and Sparq called "OptiFile" that claims support: https://www.komsoftware.com/pr-1990-94/pr-kom-sony-wdd931.html
I don't know if it's available at this point, but it's listed as an active product.