Tri-Data Cartrifile parts/interfaces/tapes?

jim stephens jwsmail at
Thu Jun 25 15:15:50 CDT 2020

On 6/25/2020 11:18 AM, Josh Dersch via cctalk wrote:
> Hi all --
> I picked up a Tri-Data Cartrifile 4096 at VCF West last year and since I'm
> suddenly going to have more time on my hands, I thought it'd be fun to see
> if I can get it running again.  The Cartrifile is a tape drive that uses
> cartridges containing continuous-loop 1/4" tape in various lengths, much
> like 8-track tape though in slightly different packaging and with a fixed
> head.  10ips, 600bpi.  (There's a brochure on Bitsavers at
> The unit I have has a PDP-8 compatible interface, though I only have the
> cabling and rear-bulkhead for posibus systems.  (My 8/I is currently
> negibus, so some work will need to be done there.)
> It's in pretty decent shape and I think I should be able to get it to work
> again.  I also have a stack of cartridges and it remains to be seen how
> they hold up.  If they're anything like 8-track tapes, the EOT marker will
> probably fall off and the tape ends will need to be reconnected as well
> :).   At minimum I hope to be able to recover the data off the tapes I have.
> Curious if anyone out there has one of these, has any spare parts, or
> interface parts (there was at one point an Omnibus interface available, and
> having the negibus interface would be extremely handy.)
> Thanks as always,
> Josh
I have (had somewhere) two of them.  Mine had I think unformatted NRZI 
interfaces.  I ran them on the same controller as the formatted 9 track 
800bpi NRZI on my 1600 systems.

I think I had one that had a different interface, but forget the 
details.  I had about half a dozen of the cartridges as well.  They 
worked well at the time, not sure how well the media would have aged, 
but I suspect similarly to any 8 track tape or 4 track audio tape if it 
doesn't shed.

I'll keep an eye out, but you know my situation having moved may be a 
while if ever when I see them.   I think they may be optical EOT BOT, 
but you may know already.

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