Help reading a 9 track tape

Van Snyder van.snyder at
Wed Aug 4 15:11:59 CDT 2021

Paul Pierce <prp at> read some 7-track and 9-track tapes for
me about twenty years ago. He was in Portland, OR at the time. His
"lab" was on the east side of the Willamette river, so maybe it didn't
get burned down.
I don't know whether he still has a setup to read tapes. His software
would read blocks forward and backward, including the parity frames,
and make corrections.
Van Snyder
On Wed, 2021-08-04 at 09:25 -0500, Jay Jaeger via cctech wrote:
> James, I am located in Madison WI.  I would need to fire up my SCSI 9
> Track drive (software on Linux) and test it as I have not used in a
> couple of years, but I have done recovery of old tapes from this era
> before, and have a primitive setup for "baking" tapes before trying
> to read them.
> Assuming my HP 9 track is still happy, I can produce AWS format tape
> images, raw block files and extract individual files (translated into
> ASCII if that is desirable).
> I don't remember exactly the time period when tape coatings were such
> that reading them without "baking" them is very risky - this might be
> before that era - Al Kossow would probably know - so I'd likely
> "bake" it first before trying to read it.
> Given the name "IEBUPDTX" this tape was certainly intended to be used
> on a 360 or 370, as you described below (IBM has a utility IEBUPDTE).
> So, if you haven't found somebody to read this thing yet, feel free
> to contact me.
> On 8/2/2021 10:11 AM, James Liu via cctech wrote:
> > Thanks for feedback and offers to assist.  I received the tape
> > fromone of the maintainers of Schoonship at CERN, and it was
> > probably madearound 1978 at SLAC.
> > For some background, Tini Veltman developed Schoonship in the
> > 1960'sat CERN on the CDC 6600.  My understanding is that he more or
> > lessinsisted on coding in assembly since he thought FORTRAN or
> > other highlevel languages would just get in the way and slow things
> > down.  Thecode was maintained by Veltman and Strubbe well into the
> > 1970's, butits future was held back by being so closely tied to CDC
> > hardware.
> > In the mid 1970's, Strubbe began a conversion of Schoonschip to
> > IBMS/360 and S/370.  It was sort of a curious technique, as far as
> > Igathered.  The idea was to first translate CDC COMPASS source to
> > anintermediate PL/I like language.  But then, instead of using the
> > IBMPL/I compiler, a bunch of macros were developed to implement the
> > PL/Ilike language in IBM assembly.  This conversion was never
> > fullycompleted for reasons unknown to me.
> > Later on, when Tini joined the University of Michigan (that's
> > whereI'm located), he realized that Schoonschip needed to be
> > updated.  Butthe update was ... instead of CDC assembly he decided
> > on m68kassembly.  (At this time, in the early 1980's, C probably
> > would havebeen the natural language of choice.)  Moreover, he
> > insisted ondeveloping his own toolchain (assembler, linker,
> > etc).  This wasbefore my time at Michigan, but basically he ported
> > Schoonschip tojust about all the m68k machines of that era (Sun,
> > Atari, Amiga, Mac,NeXT, and others I am not familiar with).  We
> > have a pretty goodcollection of m68k code(
> >, but
> > nothingearlier.
> > Getting back to the tape, I'm pretty sure it has Strubbe's PL/I
> > likecode as it is an archive of the PL/I conversion.  It may also
> > have CDCsource, but that is less obvious until we can see the
> > contents.  TheCDC source is historically the most relevant, and I
> > am hoping itexists on the tape.
> > - jim

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