TK50 Tape Drive

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TK50 drive
Manufacturer: Digital Equipment Corporation

The TK50 Tape Drive was a magnetic tape backup system popular on VAXen and other DEC computers. The design was later sold off, and became the DLT drives.

Controllers were the TUK50 Host Adapter Module for the UNIBUS, and the TQK50 for the QBUS.

TK50 cartridges could store 96 MB of data.

The unit could either be rack mounted, or carried in a stand-alone box. The internally-mounted version did not usually include a power supply, and had to be powered externally. (They used +5 V, 1.2 amperes; and +12 V, 2.0 amperes)

The TK70 Tape Drive with 296 MB capacity became the successor to the TK50.


  • Tape speed - 75 inches per second
  • Bit density - 6667 bits per inch
  • Data rate - 500 Kbits/s; 45 Kbytes/s
  • Number of tracks - 22
  • Media type - Single reel, 1/2 inch wide, 600 feet long
  • Capacity - 131 megabytes un-formatted; 94.5 megabytes formatted
  • Read/write gap spacing - 0.3 inches
  • Recording method - MFM, bit serial data, serpentine recording

Further reading

  • TK50 Tape Drive Subsystem User Reference Card (EK-0TK50-RC) - not online

External links