Wanted: SIMH VAX VMS tape image tester, take 2

Chuck Guzis cclist at sydex.com
Sat Dec 20 13:37:40 CST 2014

On 12/20/2014 02:43 AM, Johnny Billquist wrote:

> That said - what are people trying to achieve. If someone can explain
> that a bit, maybe I can also join the fun of this argument... :-)

Fair enough, Johnny.

Let me present you with a not-atypical job I've gotten.  A dilligent 
archivist goes through the long-mothballed closet or storage space of a 
university department.  He comes up with a bunch of media that appears 
to be associated with long-gone faculty of some stature.  The various 
bits of media (ranging from 8" floppy disks, open-reel magnetic tapes, 
cartridges, maybe a few flopticals tossed in) have either very sparse or 
even no labeling (outside of a sticker with a number on it).  The 
archivist's job is to preserve and document what's on these creatures.

Well, you can make image files from the media content, but with an image 
file, such as the .TAP file format used by SIMH, you have no way to 
include a description of even what system the media belonged to, much 
less its recording characteristics, operating system or type of file, 
character set, etc.  You don't even have a way to include the content of 
the paper label on the tape, much less its recording mode and density.

Given that this stuff was accumulated over a period of a decade or two, 
you have absolutely no reason to assume that the media have any 
relationship to a system that was installed at the university, much less 
how to interpret the information.

A real example:  10 tapes.  2 IBM S/360, 4 PRIMOS, 2 CDC NOS (different 
versions, one using a proprietary archive format), 2 unknown system--raw 
ASCII with no tape label, just files separated by filemarks.

In no case, was the system identified on a paper label.

For the next poor sod who is told that there are image files, but no 
metadata in those files, is there any hope?


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