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9-Track Open Reel Tape Production Ends This Year

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the neither-to-rewind-nor-to-fast-forward dept.

News 245

Robogeek writes: "eMag, the last maker of 9-track open-reel tapes, has announced that it will cease production of the product in 2002. The full story is here. The end of an era. We just packed up and shipped off our last 9-track mainframe drive for scrap. The thing was the size of a refrigerator, but when we had a bank of 9 of them going full-blast it sure gave the place a cool sci-fi feel. No more spin-spin, whir-whir... (sigh) 'Please stop, Dave. My mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it ...'"

cancel ×

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First Post... Eat it!!! (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2810943)

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Fuck You (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2811019)

Visit goatse.cx and crash your browser BASTARD!

Schlong Song (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2810945)

That dong da dong dong dong!
Ooo aah!

propz to turds (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2810953)

Props to all those who have had to rate their turds today, and still wreak of codfish. I salute you!

What a good way to play geekier than though (1)

Hairy_Potter (219096) | more than 12 years ago | (#2810962)

Ever load a 9 track mag tape?

I was actually using one in 1994, mailing houses apparently bought address lists on 9 track tape.

Re:What a good way to play geekier than though (2)

dschuetz (10924) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811058)

Ever load a 9 track mag tape?

Does "LOAD TAPE" or "@load" or somesuch count?

(it's been so damn long that I can't remember the command. I do know that I used to be a wizard at EBCDIC->ASCII and block conversions, though.)

(*used* to be. the things I've forgotten...*sigh*)

Re:What a good way to play geekier than though (2)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811091)

Who hasn't? Of course, the autoloaders helped, but I've dealt with those that needed to be hand threaded too...

Re:What a good way to play geekier than though (5, Funny)

gregor-e (136142) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811116)

Mag Tape? You young whippersnappers had it easy! You ever have to toggle in a bootstrap loader, then read a core loader from paper tape? Them were the days, I tell ya. Men were men, and bits were things ya could hold in yer hand! (I think I still have a bag of bits somewhere in my basement...)

Re:What a good way to play geekier than though (2, Funny)

killmenow (184444) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811359)

Is that you, Mel? [astrian.net]

Random thoughts from a former tape-ape (5, Funny)

Ommadawn (5636) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811329)

in 1981, I was a tape ape for a company that developed credit union software before i became a tape ape at an automotive manufacturer on old Data General and DEC stuff.. remember:

- putting the little silver part on the tape a few feet down so that we could test multiple tape logic

- carrying a whole bunch of tapes on your arm so you looked like the michelin man

- playing ring toss with the write rings

- trying to get all the colors of the olympic logo in write rings!!

- speculating what sized building you could wrap a mag tape around (we never got around to seeing if it would make it around the Pontiac Silverdome)

- tex wipes: you could take anything off of anything with these things.. too bad they had CFC's in them.

- When my direct deposit arrived at the credit union, it had exactly one record on it because I was the only person who worked where i did who had an account at that credit union.

- manually threading.. what fun!!

-bob

It's about time (0, Redundant)

Uttles (324447) | more than 12 years ago | (#2810969)

Seriously, they still make those? Well not now I guess. Has anybody ever used one? I sure haven't, but I've only been working with computers for 15 years or so.

Re:It's about time (1)

AlgUSF (238240) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811109)

When I was a computer operator between 1996-1998, we used them all of the time. We used to send direct deposit info to the bank on 9-track tapes, as well as send information to the State of Florida on 9-track tapes. All of our backups were on 8mm, and DLT tapes, but almost all of the data that we transmitted on tape was using 9-track tapes. All of the 9-track drives I used were autoloading drives, so I never had the fun of manual loading one though.

Re:It's about time (1)

plsander (30907) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811236)

Never had to manually thread one, but we had one front loading drive that would occasionally get into a confused state that would require us to manually rewind the tape onto the removable spool.

Such fun, standing at the rack putting a blister on your finger rewinding the whole #$&!* tape.

Re:It's about time (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811295)

We used them all the time in our wireless billing system (since about 1984). The cellphone switches would record the AMA to tape, which they shipped to us. We would exchange billing and settlement data with other billers and clearinghouses via mag tape. All of our bank payment lockbox data came in on tape. It was the standard (at least in our cellular industry).

Internally, we used round reels until about 90-91 when we started converting to cartridge tapes. I think just about all of the external data exchange is done over network transmission now, but we still have 9-track around as a backup (they'll send tape if they can't transmit).

Re:It's about time (2)

Weebotech (549604) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811409)

I've used them for years. It's been a pain to get customers off of them. Our company sends out hundreds of them a month. It's a requirement for most IBM shops. Guess my Linux CD burning project will take off now.

9 Track Open Reel Tapes Are dying!!! (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2810970)

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Re:9 Track Open Reel Tapes Are dying!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2811053)

I see the trolls have learned to count, but don't quite have the idea, yet...

Damn! (4, Funny)

Rayonic (462789) | more than 12 years ago | (#2810987)

Just after I bought a 9-track player for my car!

Early Toast... (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2810989)

Because it's what you need in the morning.

Risk of historical loss (4, Informative)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 12 years ago | (#2810992)

In the mid-80s, 9-track tape was pretty much the standard medium used to archive data. That's what Henry Spencer used, for example, to save the Usenet traffic of the 80s. I wonder how much history will be lost as all these tapes become unreadable.

Re:Risk of historical loss (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2811030)

Well, let's hope that those people who have history on a 9-track transfer it to some form of optical storage.

Re:Risk of historical loss (1)

Drizzten (459420) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811097)

Apparently, eMag has a 9-track retirement program [emaglink.com] for it's customers to use. Let's hope nothing important gets lost in the process.

Re:Risk of historical loss (2)

tempest303 (259600) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811099)

well, given that Google has just put all of that stuff onto their site [google.com] , I'm guessing that it won't be much of an issue. ;)

But seriously, just because the medium is no longer manufactured doesn't mean that all the machines to READ the 9-track tape are going away. There are still 8 track tape decks in service, despite the fact that it's probably been over 15 years since an 8 track tape (or deck!) was made...

Re:Risk of historical loss (3)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811177)

Tapes need to be cycled every few years in order to reliably retain data.

This is why NASA is having difficulty holding on to data... by the time a dataset is archived, it needs to be transferred to a new tape!

Re:Risk of historical loss (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811254)

I actually purchased one of these last year on a whim.. It's made by IBM and has a standard SCSI interface.

Just as I was wondering where to get tapes for it.. Ifind out they just stopped.. ARGH

Re:Risk of historical loss (2)

regen (124808) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811221)

It is the tape that they manufacture not the tape drive. You don't need to buy new tape to read 20 year old tapes. You don't need new tape to even transcribe the data. Not much risk of historical loss.

TCFS (3, Interesting)

Christopher B. Brown (1267) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811396)

The folks that used to run ITS have been looking at the issue; see Tape Archiving Using the Time Capsule File System [mit.edu]


Presumably Henry Spencer (or others at utzoo or elsewhere) could use something like this to bundle up tapes of somewhat more modern provenance...

Well... (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | more than 12 years ago | (#2810994)

Now the PDP-8 in my Basement with 9-Track tape is gonna become a valuable antique (har!) Ah, well...
I keep hoping...

Re:Well... (1)

gewalker (57809) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811308)

You may have to hold out a little longer.

I just checked ebay for current 9-track drive listings.

There where 2, both were relatively recent (6250 bpi, scsi intereface, etc.)

The nicer looking one had a buy-it-now price of $400, the other had a single bid of $100.

There were no hits for PDP-8 however.

You should trade it in for a collection of Pez dispenser if you want a better collector item.

I want a VAX in my basement personally.

I was offered an IBM-360 at one for free -- then the salesman mentioned something about a service contract ...

Memories (3, Informative)

alsta (9424) | more than 12 years ago | (#2810998)

I remember having to use cotton swabs and alcohol to clean the heads of those things every few days. Other than that, they were pretty sturdy. I can't think of one 8mm drive that has lasted as long as one of our recently retired 9-track machines did.

They don't make 'em as they used to anymore, son.

$$$ WIN MON€Y $$$ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2810999)

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Before you moderate this as off topic, you might actually read the post and see HOW MUCH MONEY YOU CAN WIN!!
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I've used them (3, Informative)

renehollan (138013) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811002)

...waaay back in 1979-1981

I even remember older 7 track tapes, and going from 1600 bpi (bits per inch) to 6250 bpi. I may still have a copy of my Masters' thesis lying around on one (in a proprietary mark-up format: Formal (Hi AJWM!)). Fat lot of good it does.

Man.. What am I going to do with all those tapes? (4, Funny)

maxoutrocketmail.com (525289) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811005)

Oops.. 9 track. I thought it was 8 track! I was worried about what I was going to do with my great 70's classic rock. The 8 track still works great in my Pinto with a speaker in front and a speaker in back. Don't scare us like that next time!

takes me back (2)

gosand (234100) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811006)

Wow, 9-track tapes. That takes me back. I remember getting a job at Motorola when I got out of school, back in '93. I thought 9-track tapes were old THEN. I am actually surprised that it took this long for them to stop being produced. What a cumbersome mess. I got pretty good at spooling them up though. It is amazing how far we have come since then as far as portable storage goes. But then again, I have more memory on my machine than my first computer had in hard drive space. (by a long shot)

Re:takes me back (3, Funny)

renehollan (138013) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811051)

But then again, I have more memory on my machine than my first computer had in hard drive space. (by a long shot)

Heh. I have more L1 cache than my first machine had external storage.

Re:takes me back (4, Funny)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811065)

Your first machine had external storage? We had to have the machine electrically shock people to write things down on paper to store them. And we were glad to have it too... you kids with your new-fangled...

Re:takes me back (3, Funny)

renehollan (138013) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811114)

You had electricity?!

Re:takes me back (1)

killmenow (184444) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811272)

<EnglishAccent>And if you tell kids that today...they won't believe you.</EnglishAccent>

Re:takes me back (0)

fuali (546548) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811253)

My video card has 3x more memory then my first Hard drive. GeForce2gts 64mb, Seagate 20mb. hrmm

I don't like fags. (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811012)

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Laugh not! (2)

PacketMaster (65250) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811021)

I have a room full of them! They're for historical purposes, but up until 4 months ago, one customer still sent us data pulls from their mainframe on them. I'm *STILL* in the process of archiving the remaining reel tapes onto Mammoth-2 cartridges.

Still using them! (3, Funny)

pantaz (316654) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811032)

We've got customers still sending us data on 9-track. Guess they'll be stocking up!

Re:Still using them! (1)

Jim Jam (2272) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811154)

Back in the nineties, the company I worked for at the time was writing some (not for flight) test software for a company supplying inflight equipment to Boeing.

We went to a meeting between Boeing and the equipment supplier, Boeing were most insistent that the software that we were writing had to be supplied on 9 track tape as that was the media that people who buy Boeing planes expect to get their test software on. All equipment suppliers must supply their test software on 9 track tape, no exceptions. If you want you can also supply it on other media, but it must come on 9 track tape.

I wonder if that is still the case.

Re:Still using them! (1)

NextGen (98789) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811373)

Nope. I worked for a company a year ago that did foam packaging for Boeing projects (I didn't care enough to look at the CAD drawings). We had to purchase an 8mm tape drive (we had DLT) in order to submit/receive our CAD drawings. They refused to let us use anything else.

Perfect timing (5, Funny)

Pope (17780) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811036)

With the 20th Anniversary release of Tron on DVD, we can look back longingly on the days when one could slip through a major computer facility and evade the security guards by hiding behind the banks of 9 track tape machines and disk platters.

*sigh*

Re:Perfect timing (2)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811320)

Those were the days... when you could actually get into a computer, and fit.

Tron wasn't a fantasy then was it?

Converting old 9-track tapes to something better (5, Informative)

Old time hacker (302793) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811043)

I have a bunch of old 9-track tapes that have potentially useful data on them. I guess I had better get moving on converting them to something more readable. Now I need to find somebody with a 9-track tape drive!

On topic: I can recall using magnetic powder sprinkled on tapes to see where the block gaps were. Then you could use a ruler to measure the size of the blocks, and convert to byte (by multiplying by the density). This gave you a head start in getting the JCL DD statement right for the tape. FB/80/800!

Re:Converting old 9-track tapes to something bette (1)

gmack (197796) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811274)

I have one .. but it's on the west coast of Canada right now(I'm on the east)

Though depending on how critical that data is I'm sure something can be arranged ;)

Re:Converting old 9-track tapes to something bette (2, Interesting)

killmenow (184444) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811319)

Got one. We in fact still use it <gasp!>

We do a lot of work with state and federal governments and they still use them so we have to sometimes as well. In fact, we're working on a project right now with a state agency and the only common format they can provide us data on (that we can read) is 9-track. They have newer cartridges but we've already got the 9-track in use and don't see much point in buying a new drive to read the cartridges from their mainframes.

They've already told us that next year, however, we'll have to find a different way because they're finally retiring their 9-tracks.

I said, "Can't you just burn the data onto CD-Rs for us?"

Good riddance! (1)

pvera (250260) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811045)

I used these tapes as far back as 1996. We finally got rid of the last two units we had when our system (a custom-built satellite telemmetry station) was upgraded to DAT.

Funny thing is that the DAT decks were not more reliable than the old tape drives they replaced. Much faster and less annoying, sure, but no better in terms of reliability.

We still kept another tape drive, that one seemed to be at least 12" in diameter. It was hell to mount because both spools mounted on a bayonet mount coaxially!

2001 Metaphor (3, Interesting)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811056)

Irwin Allen's "Time Tunnel" would have been a more appropriate shtick for big old tape drives than Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" but thanks for the chuckle. The Time Tunnel's giant, multi-storeyed cavern of spinning tapes and blinking lights with scores of techs running around with clipboards in their white lab coats was enough to get me past the lame scripts (none of which I remember). Back to the real discussions.

Re:2001 Metaphor (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811213)

Funny you mention Irwin Allen. I'm working on an "Irwin Allen" face for my PC.
I got to reels from an old tape player, and they move back and forth when the HD is hit. its still got glitches.
If I could only get it to shoot out sparks my system crashes...

Time to upgrade. (4, Funny)

SirStanley (95545) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811064)

I guess now I can finally convince my boss to let me upgrade our IT Department

I remember... (2, Funny)

dozing (111230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811069)

Back when I was about 12 my dad brought one of the tapes home from work and I unwound it all through the house for hours. Mom wasn't too thrilled and made me clean it up. But it sure was fun...

Are they really gone? (2, Interesting)

Meowing (241289) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811084)

Hm, this story again.

Aren't these guys [imation.com] still making their own tapes?

Re:Are they really gone? (1)

Drizzten (459420) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811147)

I work for a school board association and handle unemployment compensation data for them. There are still many school districts out there that use those Imation tapes. We've been banging the, "Get on the Net, dammit!" drum for a while, but holdouts continue to remain.

Floppies.... (1)

jiminim (104910) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811103)

Now if we could just get rid of floppies it would be a perfect world.

Re:Floppies.... (1)

SkewlD00d (314017) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811172)

Exactly, floppies are sooo unreliable. Can't we all just go to smartcard/compactflash/(etc.) ?

Re:Floppies.... (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811187)

Bite your tongue. Floppies are still one of the fastest, cheapest, most convienient ways to transfer files between two non-networked computers. I know a lot of people who bring work home with them on a floppy. A lot easier than emailing it to themselves no to mention more secure. It's also nice to have that boot floppy when your hard drive fails.

Re:Floppies.... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811235)

Yes, let floppies die.

I've seen too many floppies fail with a student's work on it.

Floppies just need to die.

Re:Floppies.... (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811328)

The problem is that you are not supposed to work directly from the floppy. That is just asking for trouble. You use the floppy to transfer and store the document.

Re:Floppies.... (1)

Gavitron_zero (544106) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811321)

Floppies are fantastic! Just as long as you don't put any data on them... They fly pretty well, and they have a bit of mass to them, so they can hurt people, plus, uh...they can...ummm...hold up the short leg of your couch?

Re:Floppies.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2811377)

Of course, Fuji announced a "nano-cubic" technology they claim will allow 3GB of storage on a floppy disk. Check it. [fujifilmmediasource.com]

Wait! (2)

grub (11606) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811115)


I hope you offloaded all the ASCII pr0n before trashing your tapes. :)

HAL... (2)

Howie (4244) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811117)

didn't HAL store things on those funky glass-like blocks, anyway? It's been a while since I saw 2001

We're really have made it to the future ... (2)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811122)

.. cause it looks like even the low budget sci-fi production firms have stopped calling for more in-the-background wall-decoration.

Now's the time to invest in the christmas light and plasterboard companies ...

Congrats to CmderTaco on first post! (-1)

Klerck (213193) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811125)

Don't forget to add me [slashdot.org] to your foes list! Fags!

Back by unpopular demand, more random number crapflooding!

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One-liners Rendered Obsolete (5, Funny)

bughunter (10093) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811135)

Tape Librarians Will Mount Anything

BTW Google's 20 year posts were on 9 track (2)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811141)

Imagine if those folks had waited another year or two before recovering those tapes ...

Re:BTW Google's 20 year posts were on 9 track (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2811207)

What would have happened? Do you think that all 9-track machines will stop working at the end of the year? Get you head out of your ass.

Re:BTW Google's 20 year posts were on 9 track (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811225)

So? Not like they copied them to fresh reels. Just because they are going to stop making the media, doesn't mean every drive out there will suddenly cease to read existing tapes.

Just great.... (2, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811159)

Now where will I get a replacment copy of KC and the SunShine Band..... Oh wait, 9 track? Never mind then.

I thoght they stopped being used ages ago (0)

Fembot (442827) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811165)

I havent seen one of those in use for years. I thought they were just used for getting old data for posteritys sake and not commercialy anymore. O well i guess im wrong

Awesome! (1)

WyldOne (29955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811175)

Lots of used tapes will be dumped on the market cheap that I can use in my VCR! Seriously! No really!

That stuff was allways 2x better than the best 'high-quality' tape you could buy. It was winding it up that took the most time.

Noooo! Bring back the 9-track tapes! (5, Funny)

jelson (144412) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811184)

Please, say it isn't so! Say that 9-track tapes will still be available from somewhere! They are so useful for getting in trouble with the police!

I love 9-track tapes: it makes me feel like I'm a member of the old school when using them. Back in college, every other month, I'd stop by my University's mainframe center. They had a stack of retired 9-tracks there that said "Take One", and I'd help myself. I actually backed up some of my old mail onto one of them, using the CS department's old drive. But one day, my life changed. Someone told me that 9-track tapes are made with Kevlar: that's some tough-ass stuff, it is. My job was clear.

At the time, I was living on the 4th (top) floor of a U-shaped dorm, with about 100 feet between the "prongs". I lived at one edge, and as luck would have it, my best friend lived in the other prong. So, of course, we decided that we needed a tape wire running over the street from my window to his. 9-track should be perfect, right? After all, we did have about 6000 feet of it. And it's so strong and light. What could go wrong?

I gave my friend one reel, and I kept the other. 3AM on a Tuesday arrives. Our third accomplice, a friend of ours named Zaki, goes down to the street. My friend and I, in our windows, unreel enough tape that it reaches the ground, where Zaki grabs one end, hauls it over to the other end, and ties them together. My friend starts pulling up, and the tape began to rise ever so majectically over the street. It was a beautiful site.... until....

"What are you doing?" a cop's voice suddenly boomed, approaching Zaki, who was helplessly watching the tape rise above his head.

"Uh... just, uh.. running a little tape wire here, sir," he said, with surprising sincerity. The wire was now about at the level of the 3rd floor as my friend continued reeling it in.

"And what are you going to do when that falls, and hits someone in the head?" the cop inquired. Though not as politely as this text might suggest.

As if on cue, the tape became taut -- my friend had reeled in his side completely. It was at that moment that I realized that Zaki's tape attachment skills should not have been trusted. (After all, I'm the one who owns the Ashley Book of Knots [amazon.com] - it should have been my job.) Yes, that's right: the tape came apart. My friend's side was safely in his apartment. But my side? Oh no. It was fluttering down towards the street, right towards the heads of Cop and Zaki, who were intently discussing the merits of the project.

I turned from the window - in a complete panic - and began RUNNING, tape reel in hand, as fast as I could through the apartment! Through the living room, through the corridor, past the kitchen and another corrdidor - with the tape trailing behind me. Finally, I reached my bedroom, and with no where left to run I started spinning in circles as fast as I could, wrapping the tape around me. When I finally fell onto by bed, dizzy, I could only hope that enough tape had been taken in through the window to avoid A Scene.

Luckily, it was. Like I said, that tape is strong.

So let this be a lesson to those of you still in college: use the back windows that face the alley, instead.

Re:Noooo! Bring back the 9-track tapes! (1)

L-Wave (515413) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811305)

OKay this is the funniest story I've read all day! =) Moderators need to mod this up, im dying of laughter here =) thanksl for cheering my day up!

Re:Noooo! Bring back the 9-track tapes! (2)

travisd (35242) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811316)

Actually, in hi-rise dorms it's much more fun to tie and end off and get in the elevator.

What will the IRS and FAA do ?? (4, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811188)

If only the vacuum tube manuf. would go under ...

YAY! (2)

garyrich (30652) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811192)

I've still an old concurrent machine that uses these. I've been trying to kill it for years. One more nail in the coffin!

Hm IS workout tapes. (1)

WyldOne (29955) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811194)

I used to have to lug 15 of these buggers to other buildings for 'offsite' storage. Now it looks like I have to get a new exercise routine.

Other retired media? (1)

gmkeegan (160779) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811196)

Are there still companies making paper tape, punch cards, 5.25" diskettes, TK50 cartridges and other waning media?

Re:Other retired media? (3, Informative)

gimple (152864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811324)

There was an article [wired.com] in Wired [wired.com] in 1999 that is about the dirty little secret in corporate America. The secret? A lot of companies are still using punch cards for critical applications. It is a good read.

Personally, I will sorta miss that "thwupp!" sound when the tape drive grabbed the tape to feed it onto the take-up reel. (Okay, not really, but I wanted to somehow work in the fact that I had used 9-track.)

Re:Other retired media? (1)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811344)

When somebody left the company last year their replacement presented me with a stack of 5.25" disks expecting me to do something with them. I promptly went across the street to Bryant Park and played frisbee.

Tape Robots (1)

ishmalius (153450) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811211)

I used to work at a place that had a tape robot. The machine would get a request for some data item; the robot would go pick it up, load it, and run it. Those things look really damn cool.

What will happen to... (0, Troll)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811214)

all the cross-dressing sysadmins who like to put on some makeup, turn on the 9-track and pull a wig down from the shelf? I can almost hear someone singing "suddenly I'm Ms. Ada Lovelace."

Or was that way too much of an inside joke?

Re:What will happen to... (-1)

Tasty Beef Jerky (543576) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811417)

If you're talking about "tutu-wearing faggoty-ass MISY majors," it's not too much of an inside joke.

Otherwise, this is sailing above my head much as what I wrote is sailing above yours.

good riddance (-1, Flamebait)

LOTR Troll (544929) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811219)

Now, it would be intelleigent of people *not* to replace their mainframes with Linux machines. Time after time, Linux continues to fail at business applications, this is a fact.

Uh-oh.... (3, Funny)

r_j_prahad (309298) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811241)

We have a problem. Need to forward this story to my boss, Mr. Nine-Track-Will-Be-Around-Forever guy.

Memories! Misty.... (3, Interesting)

handorf (29768) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811246)

Wow... This brings back the memories.

At my first real employer in technology, we were nice and up to date... 4mm DAT for all our backups.

Except... we interfaced with some companies in the healthcare industry. All of their data came in on 9-Track.

Everyone else had a great deal of difficulty making the tape drive read some of the various formats and work out the bpi and character formats on our flukey old 9-track drive... except me. I was the 9-Track Wizard. Give me the tape and I could get the data off. Reel bent in the mail? No problem. Cut tapes? Bring it on...

I even got the responsibility for blanking out the tapes. I had to write a nice little program to write prime numbers to the tapes in order to have some nice random data.

Ah, those were the days, years ago. All gone now.

I'll miss you, little 9-track.

*sniff*

In other media retirement news.. (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811249)

.. the stone tablet has been retired. When asked God said "all new communication will be via post-it notes"

I have ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2811262)

...several hundred used 9-tracks available for sale cheap. $1 each plus shipping :)

5.25" Disks (3, Interesting)

singularity (2031) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811263)

I came across an old stash of 5.25" disks from my first Apple //c (1984 or so). After seeing this article, I went and did a search to see if anyone was still making those, as well.

Imation and Maxell, at least, are still producing them.

http://www.intimecatalog.com/supplies/DISKETTES_ MA XELL.phtml

Any guesses when those will stop being produced?

Election boards througout the US must upgrade. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2811283)

Local election boards throughout the
country will now have to upgrade
their systems. For decades, that's
the only way you could get voter's
lists.

Lots of companies still use them (2)

alanjstr (131045) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811284)

Many companies still use 9 tracks (I work for the phone company) to transfer data around. We also do NDM and cartridges. Hopefully this will make them modernize their equipment.

Capacity? (0)

Spooge Demon (413208) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811291)

What's the capacity of these things? Grabbing some numbers (length and bpi) from other posts my rough calculations show about 10.7 MB. Is this right?

in other news.. (2)

ImaLamer (260199) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811294)

...they have announced a new technology which can fit 720 kilobytes of data onto an item called a floppy disk

Fun to unload off the fantail of the carrier (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2811315)

Back in the Navy, 73-76, we regularly dumped old tapes, and I found two ways more fun (and more time away from the chiefs!). One way: run off a hundred or two feet, hold on to the end, and spin the reel with the rest of the tape off the fantail -- mighty spin, so it unwound as it flew backwards. When it hit the water, it would unwind more, and you were left with a 1000 foot ribbon floating in the air from your hand. Let it go, and watch it slowly drift down.

Other way was slide it down a swab handle, spin off enough tape to reach the water, and sooner or later the water would get a good hold of it and start unwinding it. You held the swab handle with both hands, being damned sure to keep the spinning reel centered, because it would give you a good burn it was spinning so fast. Eventually all the tape was in the water, at which time you flipped the swab handle up and away so the empty reel spun off like a frisbee, much faster than any mere hand spin could do.

Yeh, probably not a reel (sic) environmentally friendly way to dump them, but it gave the Soviet trawlers something to watch.

1001 Uses for Old Write Rings (1)

buckeyeguy (525140) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811367)

Hmm, on second thought, I can't think of a single good use for the yellow plastic write-enable rings that go on those tapes... any ideas?

I know some businesses still use the darn 9-track things... electric utilities were still sending in emission data on 9-tracks to the agency I was working at through 1999. The one tape drive we had that could read them broke constantly. What a PITA.

Nine-Track Story (also 'Stupid Operator Story') (5, Interesting)

Jack William Bell (84469) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811399)

Many years ago I worked as a programmer/analyst on a very large mainframe accounting system. One set of programs that I was maintaining did a monthly reconciliation from history and posted beginning balances. The code (COBOL of course - shudder) had originally been written in the 1970's and worked quite well, but was rather obfuscated.

Suddenly we started having a problem with one particular set of accounts, the amounts being posted were coming out wrong by a significant margin. But the problem made no sense because no other accounts were affected and I couldn't find a bug in the code that would do this. After several months of this (and my boss coming down on my neck) I decided to go down to the computer center and watch the process run in person.

I know. I know. Going to the watch a program run should make no difference at all. But I was getting desparate!

So I am sitting in a room half the size of a football field, full of hulking mainframe equipment, watching while the operators fetch and load the nine-track tapes containing the accounting history for that year. About fifteen minutes into the process one of the tape drives started 'hiccuping'. It would advance, backup, advance, backup over and over. Then one of the operators went up to it, stopped it, opened the glass cover, advanced the tape by hand, closed the cover and restarted it.

I nearly fell out of my shoes. I then asked what the hell he thought he was doing? "Oh, we have problems with that tape all the time, so we just turn it past the problem!"

Turns out the tape had a bad spot. If the operator had left it alone it would have timed out and we would have gotten a console error. Instead the operator would hand-turn it past the bad spot and the way the tape blocks were written to tape allowed it to actually continue from that point.

So I created a new tape from the backup; problem solved and my boss was happy with me. No the operator wasn't fired, but they did do some 're-training'. The accountants were still pissed anyway, but they always seemed to have a bug up their butts.

Me, I felt like a gawdamn Sherlock Holmes...

Jack William Bell, who did his time in the COBOL mines and is *never* going back...

what a shame! (1)

Adrian Voinea (216087) | more than 12 years ago | (#2811415)

This is unbelievable... just when the linux port was around the corner, look what happened !
I can't even imagine a beowulf cluster of these babies anymore :)
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