Differences Between CompacTape I, II, III

From: Jerome Fine <jhfine_at_idirect.com>
Date: Mon Nov 8 08:10:06 1999

>Eric Smith wrote:

> > Based on the data within the above tables (and at the URL),
> > there seems no doubt that DEC practised their usual
> > antics back in the 1980s when they practised their standard
> > marketing policy of adding "nothing". From my experience
> > with CompacTape and CompacTape II, I can definitely
> > say that these two tapes ARE VERY DIFFERENT:
> > The CompacTape is usually labelled with a BROWN
> > designation and the CompacTape II is usually BLUE!!
> > Does anyone remember if there was also a price difference
> > between CompacTape and CompacTape II?????????
> Yes. The CompacTape II (TK70) tape was certified for use in the TK70
> drive. I suspect that the TK70 drive used more tracks than the TK50,
> but I haven't dug up specifications to be sure.
> Before you jump all over DEC for doing this, remember that it was (and is)
> standard practice in the entire disk and tape media industry to offer
> the same media at different certification levels for different prices.

Jerome Fine replies:

If you want the specifications for the various tapes that were called
Compac I,II,III along with the DLT tapes, look at:


which provides all sorts of additional information.

Is it possible that the price difference of between 40% and 50% that I see
in a catalogue from about 10 years ago was solely for the change from
a BROWN "CompacTape" designation to the BLUE "CompacTape II"
designation? Just as some companies that offered different density floppy
diskettes or double-sided diskettes at different prices but with the
identical media and charged a premium price, I am somewhat suspicious
that even if DEC followed different certification procedures for the
CompacTape II vs those for the CompacTape that there would be
even a noticeable difference in the cost of producing the CompacTape II.

And without any evidence on your part that there were any certification
levels for the CompacTape II that were different from those for the
CompacTape (let alone that if there were some that they cost any more
or that the cost amounted to any more than a few cents per CompacTape II),
I suggest that you provide at least some proof that you know that
such certification levels existed along with the actual additional costs.
Incidentally, I noticed in the same 10 year old catalogue that DEC RX50
and DEC RX33 diskettes were also priced far above standard prices
in the market for identical products. For example, the RX33 is identical
to a PC HD 5 1/4" floppy, yet DEC was charging close to $ 50.00 per
box of 10 RX33 simply because there was an RX33 label.

I notice in the same URL reference that the "CompacTape III" was
specified for all 3 tape drives: TK85, TZ86 and TZ87. Was it possible
that DEC realized that the so-called "standard practice in the entire
disk and tape media industry to offer the same media" for use in different
drives such as the TK50/TK70 (BUT UNDER A DIFFERENT
LABEL) was no longer reasonable and so long as the same media was
going to be used for all 3 drives (BUT at substantially different capacity),
it would be much more reasonable for all 3 tape drives to use the same
media (a CompacTape III instead of III, IV and V)?

All I am asking is that if you have actual proof that there were different
certification levels for CompacTape and CompacTape II that you
provide such proof along with the additional cost. Otherwise, I
must assume that the only reason for the 40% to 50% increase
in cost was the so-called "standard practice in the entire industry"
of charging more when it was possible to do so.

I realize that DEC produced both hardware and software products
of superior quality.... BUT....

Sincerely yours,

Jerome Fine
Received on Mon Nov 08 1999 - 08:10:06 GMT

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