WARNING: Clear QIC Tape Bands

Zane Healy healyzh at avanthar.com
Tue Jan 18 13:34:21 CST 2022

On Jan 18, 2022, at 8:58 AM, Chris Zach via cctalk <cctalk at classiccmp.org> wrote:
>> As someone that has worked with computer tapes for nearly 40 years, I have to question the sanity of this.  These 
> tapes are *HOW* old?  What was their intended lifespan?  While we all like to keep our hardware as original as possible, does it really make sense to try to run systems in this day and age with QIC tapes?
> Well, you gotta use something to back up those ESDI drives.
> I'm finding the TK50's and TK70's to be pretty good, the big massive problem with them is those two pulleys having the grease dried up. Since one of them runs the tape tachometer they need to spin freely and smoothly.
> Count the turns on the top bolt as you remove it, take off the pulleys, lubricate or replace the bearings, reassemble, good for another 20 years or so.
> QIC.... Yeah that's not going to work well. Times change.

I’m also not using MFM or ESDI drives.  I converted my Q-Bus HW to SCSI 20+ years ago.  When I get it back up and running, I plan to convert it to SCSI2SD.  OTOH, I am trying, for some insane reason to get a DSSI system going.  I started converting my SCSI based DEC HW to SCSI2SD last summer.

Having said that, that’s good news on the TK50’s and TK70’s, I have a couple boxes in my office (so somewhat nicely stored) that I need to read, in my nonexistent free time.  My plan has been to buy a refurbished SBB that will read them.  I’m more likely to trust the TK50 in my PDP-11 than the 4mm DAT. 

I’ve read 30 year old 9-track tapes on production hardware, and I’ve read very old TK50’s (as well as other DLT-style tapes).  Things like QIC, 8mm, and 4mm, I try my best to avoid on production systems.


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