How-To: Read a ROM

NYC Resistor member Adam Mayer just posted this fantastic guide to reading the data off of old EPROM chips. To grab the data, you’ll need an Arduino Mega (or a microcontroller with 24 I/O pins), jumper cables, breadboard, and of course an EPROM to read. Adam also suggests having a fair bit of wits, though he says “unless you’re exceptionally addled you should be fine.”

But what kind of data can you expect to find in these digital time capsules? “The bulk of the ROM probably contains binary instructions, but anything could be in there—images, fonts, screed, mysteries,” he says. Adam also offers plenty of suggestions for how to interpret the data you might find and shows how he uncovered Hebrew and English glyphs inside one of the chips. So if you’re interested in uncovering some of the data that could be stored in your old electronics devices, check out his detailed writeup and let us know what you find!


Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

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