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21 Track Tape Reader
"Reading yesterday's tapes with today's technology"
New development

The 21-track recording technology was developed more than 60 years ago. Many 21-track tapes that have been recorded since then still contain valuable, often unique, data.

The equipment to read these tapes is at least 30 years old. Maintenance is a nightmare. Spare parts are often only available by cannibalizing the quickly dwindling number of other units.

The technology used in the tape drives may have been cutting edge 60 years ago; today it is hopelessly outdated.

However, the use of today’s technologies to read these old tapes has proven to be remarkably successful. Tapes that read with thousands of parity errors on older equipment contain few or no errors whatsoever using our newly developed equipment. Our proprietary digital peak detector, for example, can recover data in many instances where the old analog technology has totally failed.


A single board receives the signals from the head, recovers the data, and sends the data to the host.
Designed for the challenges of older tapes

The recording surface of many older tapes is contaminated by binder and other sticky materials. This can lead to the dreaded stickage problem where the tape sticks to the head or to other stationary tape path elements.

Tape stickage primarily occurs when the tape is stopped. Moving tape is much less likely to stick.

Our transport reads the entire tape without stopping. All data are stored on the electronic board inside the transport. After the entire tape is read, the host can request the data at any speed that is convenient to the host.


Top view of 21 track reader.
The head and the tape guides are easily accessible for maintenance
Small, portable unit

In many instances the unit may have to be shipped to a different location. Our compact reader is just 24" x 20" by 5" and weighs less than 25 Kg (excluding shipping material). It comes in its own custom shipping crate and can easily be transported by commercial shippers.

The reader is designed for maintenance-free operation. However all components are easily accessible and can be replaced by untrained technicians, following our detailed maintenance instructions. View/download 21 TRACK MAINTENANCE GUIDE (5 MB .pdf file)

Cables and wiring of 5V and 12V power supplies. The input voltage can range from 100V to 240V.
Inside the reader.
The data board is in the center.
The two round boards are motor drivers.
An operator panel is in the upper left corner.
Superior tape motion control

We precisely control both servo motors with our patented sensorless motor technology. Its highly accurate position information allows for precise electronic tension and speed control.

Traditionally, the rotation of brushless DC motors is controlled by “commutation” where the motor windings are switched on and off as the motor rotates.

Our superior “sinusoidal” method drives all windings at the same time. The current in each winding is continuously modified to its ideal value. The motors turn and move tape smoothly without any distortions. This results in superior read signals.
Tension arms, vacuum columns, and Capstan motors are technologies of the past millennium.


Motor driver electronic board
Measures the rotational motor position precisely.
Using today’s technologies simplifies the design and results in superior performance
Purchasing and leasing options
In addition to purchasing options the 21 track reader is also available for short-term and long-term lease.
Send your tapes to us and we will read the tapes and send you the data.
Our technical staff is available to come to your site and do all required work no matter where you are located.
You can use your own transcription software or you can use transcription software available from our partners.
Contact us to find the best option for you. email or call 303-774-6361 or 1-888-678-2737
Proudly manufactured in the USA
All our products are manufactured in Longmont, Colorado.