Exatron Stringy Floppy

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An Exatron Stringy Floppy (cover removed) designed for use with the TRS-80 Model 1

The Exatron Stringy Floppy (or ESF) is a continuous loop tape drive that was developed by Exatron for use with the Radio Shack TRS-80 microcomputer, among others, and was launched in 1979. The tape cartridge is about the size of a credit card, but about twice as thick. The magnetic tape itself was 116 inch (1.6 millimetres) wide.

According to Embedded Systems magazine the Exatron Stringy Floppy used Manchester encoding, achieving 14K read-write speeds and the code controlling the device was developed by Li-Chen Wang (who also wrote a Tiny BASIC, the basis for the TRS-80 Model I Level I BASIC.)

In the July 1983 issue of COMPUTE!'s Gazette the ESF for the VIC-20 and the Commodore 64 was reviewed. The April 1983 issue of Creative Computing reviews the Winter CES show where Texas Instruments showed the TI Compact Computer 40 (CC-40) which included an optional peripheral, "a wafertape digital tape drive similar to the Exatron Stringy Floppy ($139)."

Exatron pitched the ESF as "The viable alternative". The ESF was faster and more reliable[citation needed] than a data cassette, and half the price[citation needed] of a floppy disk.

Wafers were available with tape lengths ranging from 5 to 75 feet. Known tape length and data capacaties are: 5/4k, 20/16k, 50/48, and 75/64k.[1]

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