Chamber of Horrors: Obsolete and Endangered Media - Tapes

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Cassette tape

Cassette Tape

Storage capacity: 20-30 minute tapes, ~300-440 KB
Approximate dates in use: 1975-1978
Comments: Most early personal computers such as the Altair, Commodore PET, TRS-80, and the Apple I came with an optional cassette tape drive. The Apple's cassette interface was initially included to allow BASIC to load faster, preventing the user from having to type for 30 minutes. Cassette storage became obsolete as inexpensive 5.25" floppy drives entered the PC market with the introduction of the Apple II in 1978. Here is a brief tutorial on migrating old cassette data.

9-Track reel

Nine track tape

Storage capacity: Recording densities of 800bpi, 1600bpi, and 3200bpi have been used in the past, with 6250bpi as the most common.
Approximate dates in use: 1964-present
Comments: Tape is 1/2" wide. In September 2003, Qualstar, the last remaining U.S. manufacturer of 9-track tape technology, announced that it would no longer make 9-track drives. Many institutions still have large repositories on 9-Track tape that are in need of migration.

IBM 3480

IBM 3480 Tape Cartridges

Storage capacity: 200MB
Approximate dates in use: 1984-1994
Comments: 1/2" tape encased in a 4"x4" cartridge.
Read more about the IBM 3480 tape unit.


60Mb Data Cartridge Tape

Storage capacity: 60MB-10GB
Approximate dates in use: 1972-1995
Comments: 5 7/8" X 3 7/8." QIC tapes, popular in the eighties and early nineties, went through numerous variations in tape length and capacity. They were available in the standard sizes, DC600 and DC2000, and were later replaced by QIC-Wide and Travan (see below). More on the QIC (Quarter Inch Cartridge).

G2000 Tape

G2000 1/4-inch Tape Cartridge

Storage capacity: 40MB
Approximate dates in use: 1990-1995
Comments: 3 1/8" X 3 7/8." G2000 (DC2000 compatible) QIC-40.


40 Gb Travan Cartridge

Storage capacity: 400MB-40GB
Approximate dates in use: 1995-present
Comments: 750 feet of tape, 0.315 inch tape width. Travan drives can also read QIC and QIC-Wide media.


8mm Tape Cartridge

Storage capacity: 2.5-5GB
Approximate dates in use: 1990-present
Comments: Sony 8mm data cartridge QG-112MB Still in use. Computer Grade, 112M/367Ft (2.5GB Native). When used in Hi8 video cameras, tape will provide a two hour recording, and in Digital8 cameras the tape will provide a one hour recording. For computer data storage, the tape holds from 2.5GB to 5GB depending on the system.

DG90M Tape

DDS Tape Cartridge

Storage capacity: 2.0 GB
Approximate dates in use: 1993-present
Comments: 4mm x 90 Meter. Fujifilm DG-90M DDS tape cartridge.

DC4 120

4mm DDS DAT Tape

Storage capacity: 1-4 GB
Approximate dates in use: 1993-present
Comments: 4mm DDS DAT tape 120M (394 Feet). TDK DC4-120 DDS2. "DAT refers to a basic 4mm tape design, but these DAT tapes are not digital audio tapes, despite the name. They adhere to Digital Data Storage (DDS) standards." (From Windows & .Net Magazine.)

DLT Tape

DLT Tape

Storage capacity: 15GB
Approximate dates in use: 1994-present
Comments: Fujifilm DLTtape III XT. DLTtape IV introduced in 1995.
Read a history of the DLT tape-drive family.

4mm Tape

4mm DAT Tape

Storage capacity: 12 GB
Approximate dates in use: 1996-present
Comments: 4mm DAT (Verbatim DDS3 125M).

Ditto Max

Iomega Ditto Max taps

Storage capacity: 3-10GB
Approximate dates in use: 1997-1999
Comments: Iomega stopped manufacturing the Ditto Max tape backup system in 1999.