Jul 062014

With a nudge from Earl, one of the RCR Podcast guys, I bought this punched paper tape from an eBay listing, described as "STRTRK (Startrek)" on paper tape for Imsai/Altair/S100/8080/Z80 etc. I don’t presently have any S100 type machines, but it looked interesting to me anyway. The seller had no knowledge of what was actually on the tape, so it might have contained machine code, source code, documentation, or something entirely unrelated to the label.

I don’t have a working way to read the tape in to one of my modern machines yet, but that should change pretty soon. I have a model 33 ASR teletype which can read the tape, but I haven’t gotten its current loop interface working yet. I have a high speed reader/punch with an RS-232 serial interface on the way from another eBay purchase. For now, if the tape contains human-readable text, I can make some sense out of it by printing it in local mode on my 33 ASR.

After slicing open the wrapper, I found that the top bit was set on every byte. This suggests that it’s most likely text rather than machine code, because it was a convention on some machines to set the top bit of every byte on plain text tapes. I ran a bit of the beginning of the tape through my 33 ASR and found what looks like BASIC source code.

Once I have a reliable way to read the tape into my modern machine, I’ll share the contents. I don’t know yet whether it will contain a version of STRTRK that’s already archived in the wild, or some other variant or fresh implementation. The seller has a few other dusty old tapes that I think I’ll also buy to see what’s on them.

  2 Responses to “A Paper Tape from eBay”

  1. Commenting on my own post here! Based on the few lines I printed out, I can see that this code appears to have a common origin to the source code that can be found here, but it’s not identical. I’ll learn more once I can upload the entire tape.

  2. 73’s Mark.
    I am in LA, perhaps we should link up sometime. I hit W6TRW now and then. I have a KSR33 too, but it got shook up a bit (Wayne at teletype parts is helping, they dropped his crate)