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Tape Recovery...


Experienced Member
Apr 16, 2021
Cathedral City, California
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away I did high level language programming and discrete event simulation programming. High level in Fortran, Basic and DEC's DATAtrieve database environment. The simulation work was done in the GPSS/H and AutoMod languages. I did this for 6 years before 1990 when I transferred to another facility that my employer had and started creating quality assurance systems.

Anyway, I have a tape cartridge and a reel tape from back in the day and I'm curious as to what I put on them.

The reel tape is about 8 1/2” in diameter and was off of either a DEC VAX 11/780 or 11/785. A DEC original tape drive was used.
Reel Tape.jpg

What I wrote on the reel itself was:

Reel Tape Label.jpg

The tape cartridge is a Dysan 516. I personally copied files off of a Silicon Graphics Iris workstation that was Motorola 680xx based Unix system. I may have used tar to archive the files, but I can’t be sure. I peeled back the label that I put on it back in the day and it said:

Length 555ft

Hci 310

Reorder. #815052

Certified 1600bpi

Quarter Inch Tape.jpg

As you can see, both tapes have not been physically damaged except for whatever may be caused by ~30 years of non-use. They have always been stored in their original protective covers. They were probably exposed to cold temperatures, but I don’t think they have been exposed to much more than room temperature. Given the capacities of these tapes, I doubt if they are anywhere near full.

So, does anyone know of any place that has the equipment and resources to recover what's on these tapes?

Please fill in at least a state/country in your profile. The world is a big place and I am in the UK so probably thousands of miles away.

Firstly the frst tape is probably more easily recovered than the second. It might be an idea to bake it first. The second tape will I think have a drive belt which snaps. It needs special care.

There are a few places that can recover your data, depending on where you are. I think both




and even


could recover your data on the eastern USA. Not so sure about the west cost. Certainly CHM can read it bur weather they would.


might be worth asking on the CCTALk list


i feel more folks with drives hang out there
Thanks for your message! My location is in my Profile, but perhaps it takes a while before everything gets posted.

I hadn't heard of those sites before, but I will check them out!
contact Chuck Guzis at Sydex, who is on this site Chuck(G). the only thing unusual about the qic cartridge will be that the bytes are in reverse order if it was from an SGI 68K machine