Reading Punched Paper Tape

A homebrew optical reader for proper paper tapes (7 bits, parity, sprocket holes) relating to the UK’s “ICL-CES: Computer Education in Schools” programme:

A nice stack of classic books used to prop up the reader too…

(BCPL, by Richards and Whitby-Strevens; Assembly Language Programming and the I.B.M. 360 and 370 Computers by Walter Rudd; 68000 Assembly Language Programming by Lance Leventhal. And a DEC book.)

via @neauoire
which drew this response which links to
Trammell Hudson’s Papertapes


The DEC book is the VAX Hardware Handbook 1982-3


Hee hee thanks! Lots of good things on your site there.

This thread is why I stumbled across this forum!

I actually have an old paper tape from my High School days. I know it it is a RSTS/E Basic Plus program. I wrote a little C program where I could enter the binary from the holes and print out the contents in ASCII. I did enough by hand to see it starts at line 1000 and has a print statement. (I’m not going to hand decode the whole thing!)

I’m looking for someone with a tape reader that would be willing to read it and send me a transcript of what’s on the tape. I’m not emotionally invested enough to want to build an actual reader. I am willing to pay for postage both ways, however.

I like to keep the correspondence within the US, for time and cost. If anyone is interested in ding this, let me know!


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If it is 1" paper tape (like the pink tape in the lead image), I can read it and would be happy to read it for you.

Well done for keeping hold of that tape! For a while I too had a tape from my schooldays but somehow I don’t have it anymore.

If it’s not terribly long, I’d recommend taking a movie of it - preferably at 4x frame rate- just by pulling it past the field of view of a phone or camera. That can act as a backup. I bet there are people who’d help in transcribing it if need be.

But @elb’s offer is excellent!

cool! what do I need to do to make this happen?

it’s a 1" tape

Sadly, at one time I had a shoebox full of tapes from my H.S. days, but they didn’t survive the many moves and purges of old stuff.

(Sorting via private message!)

I have a copy of the Hitchhikers Guide to VMS, one of the greatest Manuals for the VAX ever written.

Thank you for reading the tape. This is awesome!

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