Punched tape for computer, teletype, cryptographic and CNC machine applications. Usually paper, sometimes mylar.

Jul 132014
Chalco Paper Tape Reader

I just bought this punched paper tape reader through eBay, just because it looks neat. It was made by Chalco Engineering Corporation, and the accompanying paperwork indicates that it was part of the AN/TPN-19 radar system. It appears to have been overhauled and then packed up for use as a spare. I didn’t find any technical details about it online, but to my amazement I found an original manual for this series of tape readers in another eBay listing! The manual doesn’t cover all of the details of this particular model, but it should be very helpful anyway. When I get around to it, I’ll scan the manual so it can be archived online somewhere.

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Jul 062014
A Paper Tape from eBay

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.

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Feb 072014
A Silly Paper Tape Renderer

When I first became a cryptographic hardware collector, Mark’s Green Pages was a simple static-HTML web page. It started off as Mark’s Green Radio Page, and then turned into Mark’s Green Pages with sub-pages for radios and trucks. So when I wanted to add cryptographic hardware to the mix, I naturally created a new sub-page called Mark’s Crypto Page. I wanted a page banner that captured the essence of the mechanical and electromechanical cryptographic hardware that interests me, and I came up with this title image that melds together M-209-like printed text with Fialka-like 5-level punched paper tape:

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Dec 252011
Loading Paper Tape into the Fialka Cipher Machine

A collector who just bought a Fialka cipher machine asked me how to load the paper tape, which is tricky until you’ve done it a few times. Here’s how I load the wide paper tape (for printing and/or punching) into my Czechoslovakian M-125-3 machine. His machine is a Polish M-125, but hopefully the paper path is about the same (I’ve never handled the earlier model of Fialka, so I’m not sure about that). The paper tape path is a bit different when using the narrower print-only paper tape, but I don’t have any to demonstrate with.

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Apr 282010
Soviet M-125-3xx "Fialka" Cipher Machine

The “Fialka” is a cipher machine which was made and used by the USSR during the Cold War. I found this one on eBay, and it only required minor repairs to become fully operational. I’ll write more detailed information about it later; in the mean time, here are some pictures of my Fialka. You can also find more details about this kind of machine on Wikipedia.

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