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Assuming you're using Windows 95: I know that in Windows Paint (or is it
Paintbrush), you can do a Save As and give the file a .ICO extension (it's not
in the list of Save As file types, but it works). But of course it has to be a
BMP or PCX to start with...
As for other programs, you should visit windows95.com or shareware.com. There
are plenty of freeware/shareware graphics programs, including specialty
utilities for icons. Some allow you to import other file types, others make you
start from scratch. I think I tried something several months ago called
IconForge from CursorArts; I'm sure I downloaded it from one of the two sites I
mentioned above. It allows you to open various image formats like ICO, BMP,
etc. as well as extract icon files from EXE and DLL files. I think it was a
30-day or 30-use demo (can't remember which), then you had to pay for it. Under
$40 if I remember. It had some interesting effects, kind of like Photoshop
I liked it, but it's the only one I've tried, and just to create one icon. I'm
sure you will receive other recommendations.