DEC 9 Track Tapes (was Re: Applikon Workstation?)

Paul Koning paulkoning at
Fri Aug 28 08:05:21 CDT 2015

> On Aug 28, 2015, at 3:59 AM, Operon Lac <operon.lac at> wrote:
> What takes, today, present time, to read 1/2-inch reel-to-reel tape?
> Years ago, I've found literally HUNDREDS of half inch reel-to-reel tape,
> stacked outside a telco switching building. I managed to scavenge one
> hundred and ninety of them. Ended up throwing (because of lack of storing
> space... and no prospect to be able to do anything with it...) 176. I kept
> 14 reels. Anyway... are there still people throwing/giving hardware able to
> read that?

Yes, there are plenty of people who can read 9 track tape.  More impressively still, there are also people (not many) who can read 7 track tape.

Some of these have developed the skills and processes needed to recover data from old tapes, which often requires special case to avoid having the oxide come off on the first read attempt.  I believe there are also some who have created specialized drives with DSP technology, able to recover data from marginal tapes that standard drives would not handle.

If you have tapes but no drive, and an interest in having the data recovered, you should ask here; my experience is that you'll get pointers to people interested in helping out, especially if there is some reason to believe the data to be recovered is "interesting" or unusual in some way.

The same sort of comments apply to other old storage technology, like paper tape or DECtape/LINCtape.

Disk drives (removable packs) seem to be harder, I suppose because there are so many incompatible formats and a given drive will typically read only its own format.  The RM80 pack I have will mechanically fit into an RM03 drive, but that drive won't read the format...


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