Cartridge Tape System Is Fast, Compact (Dec, 1961)

Cartridge Tape System Is Fast, Compact

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Employing a new cartridge-loading technique, IBM Hypertape eliminates the need for threading and, when used in the IBM 7090 computer system, it has the ability to “read” and “write” information at twice the speed of the conventional magnetic tape system. Hypertape currently can be used as an auxiliary storage system, increasing the computer’s capability to utilize internal computing power.

Units making up this new system are the IBM 7340 Hypertape drive and the 7640 Hypertape control, which can be linked to IBM’s 7074, 7080 or 7090 computers.

Equipped with Hypertape units, the IBM 7074 and 7080 computers can read and write numbers at speeds up to 340,000 a second, or letters at the rate of 170,000 a second, or a typical combination of numbers and letters up to 250,000 a second. The IBM 7090 can perform all three functions at the 170,000 character-per-second rate. At its top speed, Hypertape could enter all 137 million U. S. Social Security numbers into a computer in an hour.

As many as 20 of the 7340 Hypertape drives may be attached to any of the three computer systems through one 7640 control unit.

Among the features of the new magnetic tape system are cartridge loading, which eliminates the need to handle the magnetic tape itself; a new method of data recording and error detection and correction; and an advanced mechanism that moves the tape without touching its recording surface—resulting in less tape wear and greater preservation of data.

In loading, the operator inserts the cartridge into a slot at the front of the unit and presses a button. The machine then automatically opens the cartridge, engages the tape and begins processing. Unloading can take place at any point during processing, since the cartridge can be sealed and removed without rewinding.

A method of detecting and correcting errors in the Hypertape system is provided by IBM Phase Encoding, a signal pattern recorded continuously on tape. Two of 10 channels which run the length of the tape are reserved for checking.

A single roller drive exerts as little as one pound of vacuum tension pull on the tape. The 1-in. wide tape can hold up to 2 million characters per reel. Circle No. 115

  1. Charlene says: November 7, 200812:52 am

    I don’t know about the tape or the system, but I covet that woman’s shoes.

  2. Jilly says: November 7, 20088:40 am

    LOL I always check out the shoes too.

  3. Torgo says: November 8, 20081:28 am

    The shoes are still good, but the tape was probably out of date in two years.

  4. Toronto says: November 8, 20081:06 pm

    That’s about 800 bits per inch. Some tape drives had that density as a compatibility mode until the late 1980s, but 1600 and 6250 bpi was more common (and these would have been 1/2″ tapes, not 1″.)

    DLT and LTO tape cartridges (about 4″ square) now hold about 800 Gigabytes, or 400,000 times as much as these 1961 vintage cartridges.

  5. Torgo says: November 9, 20081:34 am

    Very interesting, Toronto. I have had little experience with tape drives since some trying times with a Commodore PET.

  6. Scott Mercer says: November 9, 200810:01 pm

    Torgo! Is the master at home tonight?

  7. John Savard says: November 11, 200812:26 pm

    IBM’s Hypertape cartridges originally used wider tape than their regular reel tapes did. This article describes the original version of Hypertape, which was sold to only one customer – Canada’s tax department. IBM later came out with an improved version for its new IBM 360 computer, and sold it to the IRS along with an aviation company and another private customer.

  8. Tim says: March 25, 20099:02 pm

    The cartridge system made sense, but the regular reels of tape on the front of the cabinet remained an iconic facet of computers for many years to come.

  9. Toronto says: March 25, 200910:20 pm

    True enough – in the late ’90s the company I worked for went public, and we had a video made to show potential investors. The director asked me if I could make the tape spin back and forth “like in the movies” so I wrote a quick FORTRAN program to do just that. The combination of the ‘sci fi’ tapes and the hard-copy consoles probably turned off some investors, truthfully.

    He also asked if we could fake a network outage and recovery on our network monitor (which was overlaid on a map of North America.) I think I did that one in GW-Basic, and threw in a simulation of an automatic re-routing to Texas via Montreal. It would have been easier to just pull the cable…

  10. dav4is says: February 1, 20125:59 pm

    These drives were super-reliable — but huge! You never see the whole thing pictured. It was some 5 feet deep! And heavy! We proved that we could get one of these monsters to “walk” some distance, limited only by the cabling, by tape forward and back motion of the right frequency. I think that led the engineers to add floor-contact feet.
    There was also available a cartridge changer add-on.

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