Value of 7-track TU10

Paul Anderson useddec at
Mon Sep 19 19:56:18 CDT 2016

I had two 7 track TU10 drives , different customers, on contract while
working at DEC. Both where used in CAD systems. I have no idea how many
where in the branch, but at our site maybe 20 to 30 % 7 track.  I would
think the national average is lower.

A 9 can be converted to a 7 with a head change and I thing a board change
or removal. The only differences are the head and R/W circuitry I think. I
know I have TE16  and other heads, and I recall having a TU10 7 track here

The first drive on the controller has to be a master, all the rest can be


On Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 6:42 PM, Paul Koning <paulkoning at> wrote:

> > On Sep 19, 2016, at 12:34 PM, Noel Chiappa <jnc at>
> wrote:
> >
> > So what do people think the (monetary) value of a 7-track TU10 master
> drive
> > is? I have no idea what these older vacuum-column drives are worth -
> don't
> > recall ever seeing on for sale. This one is in good condition, and has
> all its
> > Flip Chips.  The 7-track is a plus in some ways (rarer), and negative in
> > others (can't read old 9-track tapes, which are probably more common than
> > 7-track).
> I don't know either, but I can say this much:
> 7 track tape drives are quite rare.  7 track data is not all that common
> either, but it shows up from time to time.  There are plenty of 9 track
> tapes out there; the ability to reach 9 track media is not at risk.  But
> for 7 tracks, it might well be.  In other words, it would be a very good
> idea to see this drive preserved.
> Along those lines, a project I'm working on has turned up a number of 7
> track tapes, possibly 556 bpi though that is not entirely clear.  They are
> in Europe, where searches for working 7 track setups have come up empty.
> Can anyone offer pointers?  Will it take shipping the media to another
> continent to get the data preserved?
>         paul

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