Tape was the first magnetic mass storage system used in computers, harking back to the days of room-size Univacs and vacuum tubes. It first proved itself as a convenient alternative to punched cards and punched paper tape—the primary storage system used by mainframe computers. Later, information transfer became an important use for tape. Databases could be moved between systems as easily as carting around one or more spools of tape. After magnetic disks assumed the lead in primary storage, tape systems were adapted to backing them up.

As a physical entity, tape is both straightforward and esoteric. It is straightforward in design, providing the perfect sequential storage medium—a long, thin ribbon that can hold orderly sequences of information. ...

Get Winn L. Rosch Hardware Bible, Sixth Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.