Tape Drive Questions

From: Frank Palazzolo <palazzol_at_comcast.net>
Date: Wed Jul 17 07:32:00 2002


I've spent some time over the past year or so reverse-engineering
the Mattel Intellivision Keyboard Component. This was a prototype
computer add-on for the Mattel Intellivision game system, which
was test-marketed but never released. I'm basically done figuring
almost everything out about it, and working on emulating it. You
can read about it here:


The tape drives in these units were unusually sophisticated. They
were essentially random-access 4-track cassette drives. Side A
was read-only, and side B was read-write. Also, on each side, the
left channel was audio and the right channel was digital data,
directly recorded. This would allow for applications to Read/Write
digital data and play/record audio simulataneously. They also has
the ability to detect the tape leader via an optical sensor.

The 2 questions I have are:

1) Does this drive sound like a drive from any other vintage
computer system?
2) Anyone know who could tackle repairing such a thing? I've had
no trouble fixing electrical problems, but tape drives are a whole
different animal...

I've basically examined 4 of these units and they all have
mechanical problems. Emulating the system may prove to be the
only way to ever see the software running.


P.S. - If I make it to VCF 5.0, I'd like to do a talk about emulating
old systems in general, and using this one as an example in
particular. It's quite a beast.
Received on Wed Jul 17 2002 - 07:32:00 BST

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