30

TL;DR: "Frictionless" Floppies are called Hard Disks (*1), consisting of a hard media platter and a head in distance of the media (flying or otherwise) Floppies are 2D tapes. While slower than tapes, their advantage is in (faster) random access for small data sets. The construction was made to save on tapes. They were never intended for continuous ...


28

Because a closed tape loop doesn't buy you anything in random access latency, which is presumably the problem you're trying to solve. The problem is that large tape loops, like 8-track, only can wind one way. So on average, you need to wind the tape halfway through to get to a random piece of data. The worst case, you wind the entire tape. Random access ...


23

They were used, but suffered from latency issues and complex electro-mechanical design challenges. Their brief day in the sun was around the mid-1950s: after that, it was likely cheaper to add another drum or disk platter rather than work out massive tape-loop logistics. An example of a large tape-loop system was the Machine Mathématique IRSIA-FNRS (MMIF), ...


22

The track identification part is quite simple. Floppy formats are standardized so that there are specifications what is the distance between tracks (e.g. 96 tracks per inch) and what is the position of the tracks from some reference point, so the drive is designed accordingly so that moving the head one step will always step one track, and the heads are ...


13

The back looks like a 50 Pin Centronics. I am just not sure how I can connect such a device using modern computers, if at all. Any suggestions or guidances would be much appreciated! Well, it seems to be a classic 50 Pin SCSI-1 interface - or at least compatible. So do it the same way it always has been done: Get yourself an SCSI interface card. Jup, it's ...


12

DECtape was used that way; it was wide (0.750 inch?) magnetic tape, on very small reels, so it didn't take forever to find a sector. PDP-8 and PDP-11 systems from Digital Equipment were the likely systems sporting DECtape drives. The tape was fully redundant, took a LOT of wear without losing data, and that made it suitable for such system-program use. ...


11

unlike with big drums or disks, you don't need to carefully align the heads on a huge surface but can just let a small part of the tape come to the fixed head. Sounds a bit like you never had to do so ;) I started my professional life in tape/disk service And believe me, there's a lot to be adjusted at a 34xx compatible tape drive head - not to mention what'...


11

Obviously, you can just switch tapes as you go, but systems that used cassette tapes for storage weren't really viable for collaborative development. Simply because with a cassette tape, you had "what's in memory" and "what's on tape", and the occasional task of saving and loading from a tape. So you could have someone walk over with a cassette so they can ...


10

Probably, no serious software development was done purely on tapes. Floppies were used extensively, as well as cross-tools, ROM emulators etc. This nice and free book, telling about the creation of the famous ZX Spectrum game named "R-Type", has also some insights into the typical development process for ZX Spectrum.


10

The standard tape reels had a capacity of 260 feet of tape. Standard tape thickness was 1.25 mil, so it would have theoretically been possible to put more tape on a reel if you made it thinner (which was hard to do because thinner tape was typically also stretchier). Making the reel larger wasn't a good option because the hubs on the drives were too close ...


10

The head gap must be very narrow to be able to make sharp magnetic transitions on the moving magnetic media. It also means the magnetic field does not bulge out too much out from the head so the media must move very near the head. If the gap was larger, it would bulge out more, but be weaker and it could not make sharp transitions on the media, which means ...


9

What information could be extracted from visualized magnetic information? The very same as with a magnetic head: flux changes - and from there everything else, like headers, sectors and the data within. Could below visualization be decoded into data? It can be decoded into a bitstream, as it seems to hold one. But I doubt that the shown section is long ...


8

Closed tape loops may not have been popular, but they were used occasionally. One of the first computers, Colossus, used a paper tape loop for read-only data storage (the ciphertext to be decoded was stored on the tape). This tape was stuck in a loop and driven at high speed (~45 km/h) past an optical reader.


8

That quote sounds quite chaotic. My experience about tapes (and disks) moved to/from storage in /370 installations is of orderly carts made to hold up to 50 tapes or 6-8 disk stacks, fine labelled and handled on a fixed schedule (twice daily, some places more often) by a dedicated service. No running with tapes up the arms or alike. Everything planned ahead -...


8

Where there are various formatting schemes for floppy disks, the usual is to break down a track into sectors. This is done during formatting and the individual sectors are written with empty data in them along with "buffer" zones between them. Each of the sectors typically has an "address" that in incorporates the SIDE, TRACK, and SECTOR ...


7

There are two ways to achieve a tape loop: Keep all of the tape perpendicular to the same plane, and add enough rollers that the tape never has to wrap against itself. This approach works well for things like tape echo units that have only a few seconds of tape, if even that much, but quickly gets bulky and unworkable for handling larger quantities. If ...


7

What about complex applications? You bought a floppy drive, or before that, used punch tape. The period where cassettes were the only form of storage on micros was basically zero. Up to about 1976 the ASR33 was widely used as the main I/O system for micros, and it had a punch tape system. You could also buy stand-alone punches and readers, both RS232 and ...


7

UV light won't affect the magnetic signal. It will however degrade most plastics. UV has energetic photons, that can break apart the molecules in the plastic, thereby degrading it. This has nothing to do with the magnetic information; merely the fact that the plastic will become brittle dust over time.


6

The first thing you need to do is to open the front door of the drive and inspect the rubber roller that drives the tape. It is not uncommon for the roller on old drives to have deteriorated into a black goo. You don't want that stuff fouling your tapes. Second, you need to inspect your tapes and ensure that the belts are still good. These belts develop ...


6

It depends a lot on the machine, the job and your team size and what time we're talking. Professional developers usually didn't work on the same minimal setup as their target user. Especially in the begining it was common to develop on a larger, somewhat compatible system (or total different with cross compilers) with 'real' mass storage, and usually better ...


6

TL;DR Yes, there where sevelal professional mainframe (related/connected) devices that did use analogue recording. Most of them developed arround 1970 and used until the early 80s. The key reason to use them was cost reduction in a large volume installation and higher reliability. Where ever the low transfer speed and the serial nature of tapes was ...


6

There's another use of tape drives that is "sort-of" random access and floppy-like, besides DECtapes: The Exatron Stringy Floppy and the ZX Microdrive used tapes that consisted of a closed loop in a cartridge, and was used for home computers (TRS-80 resp. Sinclair ZX Spectrum) as a cheaper alternative to floppy disks. The loop was transported much faster ...


6

In the company I worked for, there certainly weren't people "running around" with tapes etc. The "tape library" was a whole department, and the physical storage occupied almost a complete floor of the computer building. The size of the library was well over 10,000 tape reels - not all "active" or regularly used, but much of it was data from engineering ...


6

Punch cards were the cheapest storage medium for small data sets. Remote Job Entry terminals such as used by Control Data Corporation included a card reader and line printer. The initial member list for 3PBS-FM was stored on punch cards then membership lists could be produced by printing the deck at no cost. Cards could be punched at no cost. So Punch Cards ...


6

The cheapest mechanism was paper. The storage method was printing it out. The entry method was typing it in. This is a tried and true technique that flourished into the 90s and is arguably still used today, save it's now known better as "cut and paste". Most every type of mechanic was used in the past to widely distribute software and data, paper ...


5

You can use these types of tape cassettes for digital storage by acquiring the correct kind of tape drive and/or interface for each. For VHS cassettes the "tape drive" would be a standard VCR connected to a special interface card that converts digital data into analog signals that can be recorded as a video signal. These special interface cards aren't made ...


5

The fascinating thing to me is the way in which the media is a hybrid of a punched card and a floppy. It's more like a floppy - especially in its original version, the IBM 2321 Data Cell Drive of 1964 (see below). MagCards are a downscale from the 2321, which was, at its time the top end of random accessible online storage. They provide much larger storage ...


5

Comparing the two set of bytes suggests there might have been a problem where the tape physically "stuck" and then "jumped", reading erroneous data: 10 10 00 35 D9 D9 8C 8C 45 32 6E 6E Of course there is no way to know what conditions the tape had been stored in, how well the tape reader had been maintained, and how the reading ...


5

The cheapest ways for storage of data are the ones that are high-volume, off-the-shelf products that are not specifically produced for the computer market - and operate on high-volume consumer electronics. The compact cassette player (a cheap consumer device, not an expensive specialized computer manufacturer product) that could be had for less than $20. The ...


4

The VHS (and Beta) protocols required signals to mimic frames of television picture, so are hardware-supported in complex ways. Digital use (possible exception of PCM audio) was rare. The CompactCassette trademark licensing requirements precluded audio-player-incompatible use, so modified cassettes were used for digital directly, OR audio-compatible ...


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