[vcf-midatlantic] VHS tapes for backup drives back in 80s/early 90s?

Ethan O'Toole telmnstr at 757.org
Tue May 11 18:34:43 UTC 2021

I never used them for backup but saw them advertised. LGR did a video on 
one such system. I don't think you need to mod the VCR. IIRC they wrote 
the data 3 times, in order to deal with dropouts and corruption.

I have a lot of 3/4" U-Matic, Beta and SVHS tapes that contain data that 
is used by a box to decode analog signals from the digital data stored on 
tapes. 4 x 12 bit analog for two X + Y and then RGB color via 6 bit DAC I 
think. It's basically laser shows stored on video tapes! When you look at 
it on a monitor you can pretty much just see the data. I have videos of it 
on youtube but some of them got copyright strikes due to the music from 
the tapes.

The later firewire camcorders, I think you could actually cram 8GB of data 
per tape if you stuff it through the firewire interface as video.

When I worked at NASA I recall someone saying that the STK / IBM drive 
system we were using in the big libraries (Powderhorns) were actually some 
kind of commercial SVHS VCR rebuilt and then sold for $100K a pop.

 			- Ethan

> Hey all - just curious if anyone actually used modified VHS tape
> players/recorders for backing up their BBS or computer in generally back in
> the actual day?
> I understand you can get a few GB on the tapes which would have been a huge
> amount in the late 80s and still useful up until at least the mid-90s..
> If yes what was the setup, and how did it attach to your computer?  what
> software was used?

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