[rescue] cd-rom rot

Dave McGuire mcguire at neurotica.com
Thu Feb 20 20:58:01 CST 2020

On 2/20/20 4:14 PM, Phil Stracchino wrote:
> I imagine it's probably rather difficult to find a working punch-tape
> reader in 2020, much less a device driver for one for a modern OS.  The
> low capacity of paper tape would be a problem too.

  Nope, they're all over the place.  They're still in heavy use in the
world of big CNC machines.

  Further, there are hobbyist-level paper tape readers that one can
build in an afternoon...they're that simple.

  And device drivers aren't an issue; these are byte-wide devices.  a
UART and a USB<->serial adapter is all that's needed, then it becomes
bytes flowing into a serial port.

> Also, remember that while mylar or acid-free paper is still pristine a
> few decades later, a lot of cheap paper has deteriorated into mush, and
> not all paper tape was archive-quality acid-free paper.  I'd bet that if
> you were to go around and gather up and evaluate a large quantity of
> random, not-specifically-archived paper tape today, a lot of it would be
> damaged or unusable without designing special low-tape-force readers to
> handle it without damaging it further.

  I'm sorry to be so contrary tonight Phil, but this situation isn't so
bleak either.  We have hundreds of programs on paper tape at the museum
dating back to the 1960s.  We treat them with care, as we do with
everything else, but they're not particularly fragile.


Dave McGuire, AK4HZ
New Kensington, PA

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