UNIVAC IBM AND APOLLO - -History --Background

Nigel Johnson nw.johnson at ieee.org
Sun Jul 21 19:12:59 CDT 2019

800 bpi, bloody luxury.

I was an FE on a Univac 418 installation, the Uniservo VI C drives that 
we used had three choices, 200, 556, and 800.   We had to extract 
billing data daily to send to head office, I think they had an IBM 360 
that read them, and we had to check alignment every month against an IBM 
standard tape.  We frequently used visi-mag to check it visually in the 
maintenance room over coffee.

Fun days!


Nigel Johnson

On 21/07/2019 19:10, Chuck Guzis via cctalk wrote:
> On 7/21/19 11:41 AM, ED SHARPE via cctalk wrote:
>> Great info!https://www.zdnet.com/article/to-the-moon-ibm-and-univac-appollo-11s-integrators/?ftag=TREc64629f&bhid=46856739
> Since I'm just winding up (I hope!) archiving a batch of tapes from JPL
> from the 60s and 70s, I might toss in a word or two.
> The bulk of tapes that I see from between 1968-81 are 7-track 800 bpi
> odd-parity, often with the notation "Univac 1108" or "Univac 1100".
> After about mid 1981, the tapes tend to be 9 track 1600 PE ones, even if
> from Univac 1100 36-bit gear.  Text is all Fieldata.
> The Lunar orbiter (1966-67) selenodesy tapes that I processed originated
> on IBM 7094 gear, so probably 729-IV drives.
> There are exceptions.  The tape from the Galilean moon radar experiments
> conducted from Arecibo (ca. 1975-76) is a short-record (ca. 128
> characters) 200 bpi 7 track even-parity tape in IBM BCD (think 1401).
> Labels on some unprocessed tapes hint at data from other Jovian satellites.
> There are also several card-image tapes (even parity) that I haven't
> examined.
> There are others--I've only described the tapes that tickled my fancy
> and got my attention.  Doubtless there are some real gems buried in the
> unexamined tapes.  Sadly, most of the tape labels limit themselves to
> the owner/programmer, tape number and date, so you get what you get.
> Please don't ask for the data--that belongs to JPL and I'm not at
> liberty to release that, nor the physical tapes.
> What's surprising is how well these crusty old beggars read.  JPL used
> the cr*p out of their tapes, with some tapes having the first 600'
> removed (tapes wear from BOT, so re-certifying involved discarding a
> sufficient amount of tape from the front of the reel and applying a new
> BOT marker.
> Keeps me off the streets, it does.
> Chuck


Nigel Johnson

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