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An older magnetic tape format that recorded 6-bit characters plus a parity bit on seven parallel tracks along the length of the tape. See half-inch tape.

half-inch tape

A popular magnetic tape width that has been in use since the 1950s. The first half-inch tape format for computers was open reel, and various 7-track and 9-track tapes, wound onto reels, were threaded into the drive by a human operator. Much more convenient and holding more data, half-inch self-threading tape cartridges began to replace open reels in the mid-1980s (see Magstar, DLT and Redwood).

Although storage capacity was limited to little more than a couple hundred megabytes per reel, a few legacy information systems using open reel tapes survived into the 21st century. See magnetic tape, open reel and track.

There Are a Few Around
For more than 50 years, the open reel tape drive was used for data storage, and half-inch open reels exist in some companies. For a short time after the turn of the century, half-inch open reel tape drives were still manufactured. Each widely used computer standard hangs around longer than one would think.

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