View Full Version : transmissions to paper tape output

September 11th, 2005, 05:22 PM
Hi. I am more of a poet than a collector of vintage computer stuff. I have a poetic image I want to develop. Your input is appreciated.

There's so much I don't know and have vague recollections of. Have done some reading but it hasn't cleared things up.

Was there ever a machine that received transmissions (by phone line? telegraph line?) and output text (WORDS) on a feeding paper tape? A single line of text, I mean.

This is a rough vision of a fragment of output of the machine I have in mind:

If so, were the characters merely pressed into the tape or was inked used?

Was it ALL CAPS, or something else?

How wide was the tape?

What was the typeface?
as in:
similar to Times New Roman
similar to Courier
similar to Arial

What I am developing is a spoken word album cover / theme concept.


September 16th, 2005, 06:35 PM
Many old computers used a punched paper tape as input/output and even storage. One of the more common tapes were 1" wide with 8 data holes and one sprocket hole. Normally, 8 bit (or 7 bit ASCII) data was punched onto the tape, but many programmers punched holes in the pattern of numbers and letters. There were programs run on early PC's that printed banners and advertising. Here's an example of numbers (the id number of the software program stored on the tape) punched onto a tape (top image). The bottom image shows an incrementing binary pattern. The formed numbers and letters had no meaning to the computer, they were just used so a human could read something meaninfull by just looking at the tape.

I hope this helps some.



September 17th, 2005, 06:14 AM
Thanks. Very helpful.

Were such things ever transmitted over long distances? Via phone line, radio signal, etc.?

About the image you posted:
~Am I looking at a white tape, back-lit with light shining through punched holes?
~Does the faint line through the center represent the sprocket holes?


September 17th, 2005, 07:46 AM
The faint line are sproket holes made during the punching operation and used by the readers to pull the tape through.

The actual color of the tapes I scanned is light gray, but they come in many colors. I have red, black and gray ones. Ususlly they are read by passing light through them and detecting the light passing through the holes. I believe the basic requirement is that the paper material block at least 50% of the light.

A Teletype machine was a keyboard-printer unit that sometimes had a paper tape reader/punch attached. They were available with modems and were widely used for remote communication over phone lines. Radioteletype used radio waves and again was everywhere 40 years ago. Here's a link to some Teletype info.