wet-behind-the-ears whippersnapper seeking advice on building a nationwide network

Jamie Bowden jamie at photon.com
Tue Sep 20 11:57:43 UTC 2011

> From: Valdis.Kletnieks at vt.edu [mailto:Valdis.Kletnieks at vt.edu]
> Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 12:15 AM
> On Tue, 20 Sep 2011 05:32:04 +0200, Randy Bush said:
> > you left out one connection via a chevy full of hollerith cards and
> the
> > second a canoe full of 7 track tape in waterproof containers.
> Does anybody actually *have* a functional 7 track drive?  I remember
> seeing a
> story on PBS (may have been a Nova episode) where they discussed the
> fact that
> NASA had literally thousands of 7 track tapes of telemetry data and no
> way to
> read them because their last 7 track drive had died, and IBM had no 7
> track
> read/write heads left either...
> (I admit we still have a rack of 9-track tapes in ez-loader seals in
> our tape
> library, though we got rid of our last IBM 3420 about a decade ago. I
> think
> most of them are tapes we've lost track of ownership info, and don't
> dare
> dispose of in case the owner turns up.. ;)

It's worse than that.  I spent a little time working at NASA LaRC, and
even if you had a functional drive, the tapes are mostly garbage (we had
tens of thousands of 9 track spools that had spent decades in rooms with
no temp or humidity controls).  No point in trying to read data from a
tape that's shedding the layer of magnetic material.  We were not


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