Reading Old 9-Track Tapes (RE: Pertec Interface Cable Fun)

From: Douglas Quebbeman <>
Date: Tue Jul 11 07:35:30 2000

Good Morning all,

Thanks to all who replied to my post re: the Pertec cables.
The drive is operational, and I was able to restore files
from my MAGSAV-formatted tapes.

Some interesting data points: the two tapes from which I
recovered data had sat mostly unused since 1983. One of
them I'd handed to a friend in 1988 who was working on
a Prime system, for the express purpose of getting everything
on disk again and then copying it to floppy disks. I never
did figure out if we miscommunicated or if it was unfeasible
to do so, but all I got was paper listings... but I digress.

These ancient tapes had not been well-taken-care of the last
few years. In fact, they were in the basement, a basement
which flooded perhaps 6 times since 1996, and they had not
only been under water, but had lots of nasty growth on them
(mold &/or mildew).

In spite of this, I was able to read all but (I think) one
or two files from the source tree I'd been hanging on to.
The other tape had my custom Primos command environment,
Donald Slutz's custom command environment (with QED!), and my
Prime-ports of Intel's MAC80, INTERP80, and PLM80. These were
the items I most of all wanted from the tape.

Now, the tape also (IIRC) held lots of 8080 source code that
appears to be unreadable. Fortunately, I have copies of all
those files on a 9-track CDC-formatted tape (actually I think
it's an ANSI labeled tape, but all the files are in CDC BCD).
At any rate, while I may have to write a Fortran program to
read the CDC tape, I most likely can get those files. They
are, however, older tapes, dating from around 1980 (I also
have two 7-track tapes from about 1978).

Also, I have a trick or two yet to try on the nasty Prime
tape before I give up.

The upshot of all this is that, if you stored the tape in
a reasonable fashion (i.e. not underwater) and didn't use
high density (mine were 800bpi and 1600bpi), your tapes
should still be readable. It helps, of course, that this
Cipher streamer was under service contract until last Dec,
so YMMV.

This post brings me to another question, but I'll post it

-doug q
Received on Tue Jul 11 2000 - 07:35:30 BST

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