"8-track" data tapes, was Re: Compucolor items on eBay

From: Rick Bensene <rickb_at_bensene.com>
Date: Wed Aug 4 17:02:18 2004

The 8-Track Wang cartridges were not used (to my knowledge) on computers,
but on
the Wang 380 Programmer for the Wang 300-Series electronic calculators.

The 380 was a keyboard which plugged into a Wang 300-series electronics
package that provided a means by which programs could be recorded step at a
onto the 8-Track tape cartridge. Then, the programs could be played back.
The drive was incremental, meaning that it'd advance a little bit for each
step of
the program. As I recall, the advance mechanism wasn't a motor, but rather
a solenoid
activated ratchet mechanism that could step the tape along a bit at a time.
I believe that the drive could step both forward and backward, allowing
looping to occur (albeit rather slowly).

A few folks that I've been in contact with have managed to find Wang 380's
(Alas, I don't
have one yet), and have not been able to find the correct cartridges, but
have found that
taking old music 8-Track cartridges and cutting down the length of the tape
(a long tape won't
advance properly) will work as a suitable replacement.

You can see some pix of the Wang 380 at

-Rick Bensene
The Old Calculator Web Museum

----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Jennings" <tomj_at_wps.com>
To: "General Discussion: On-Topic Posts Only" <cctech_at_classiccmp.org>
Sent: Wednesday, August 04, 2004 12:48 PM
Subject: "8-track" data tapes, was Re: Compucolor items on eBay

> Wang used an 8-track-type cartridge for data and/or program storage. I
> don't know what machine they are for.
> I have a couple, to use in an art project (for data storage, not some
> stupid collage), because they are beautiful -- 100% transparent plastic,
> and instead of reels, an endless loop serpentine-tangle-stacked into the
> case. I believe these tapes contain feature-data or fonts or whatever
> since they are so short, but I'm just guessing.
> Don't think those home tape-deck jobs with the book of matches to align
> the head... think radio station cart recorders. Much solider (sic)
> construction, though the data architecture still sucks rocks!
> tomj
> On Mon, 2004-08-02 at 10:38, Tom Hudson wrote:
> > To be honest, I've never heard of any other computers using 8-tracks as
> > storage. Tape is bad enough, but the nature of 8-track architecture (no
> > rewind) would make usage of it almost completely untenable!
> >
> > -Tom
> >
> > Vintage Computer Festival wrote:
> >
> > >What, if any, other computers also used 8-track tape for storage? I
> > >always figured there had to have been at least one computer that used
> > >but until now I've never known of any examples.
> > >
> > >
> > >
Received on Wed Aug 04 2004 - 17:02:18 BST

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