In search of... DECtape drives

From: Tom Jennings <>
Date: Mon Oct 4 15:16:18 2004

On Mon, 4 Oct 2004, Paul Koning wrote:

> Nope. DECtape is 3/4 inch wide, 10 tracks, block oriented, random
> access. It is nothing like anything else (except LincTape). It's the
> world's first streaming tape, and also the most reliable tape ever
> made.

ANd that last might not even be an exaggeration :-)

I used lintapes on a nova 1200 shipboard navigation system
(accoustic nav, Ocean Research Equip. Inc, Massachusetts)
and you could get the heads wet and gritty and they'd still work.
You could wipe them off on your sleeve to fix read errors.

(Tapes had short lives in that environment but you simply
brought a lot of copies.)

If I remember correctly, physically there are 10 tracks,
but the heads (or amps) are wired in "series" such that two
non-adjacent tracks are redundant, so individual bad spots on
the tape do nothing. Very robust. Low density, and somewhat slow,
but not too shabby for the early 1970's!

(The first real computer I ever used was a 16K Nova 1200,
linctape and silent 700, I typed in TREK from BYTE magazine,
had to fix the incompatibilities in dialects (seemed like a
big deal at the time :-).
Received on Mon Oct 04 2004 - 15:16:18 BST

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