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 developed by Exatron.

The company introduced an S-100 stringy floppy drive at the 1978 West Coast Computer Faire, and a version for the Radio Shack TRS-80 in 1979. Exatron sold about 4,000 TRS-80 drives by August 1981 for $249.50 each, stating that it was "our best seller by far". The tape cartridge is about the size of a business card, but about 316 inch (4.8 millimetres) thick.[1] The magnetic tape itself is 116 inch (1.6 millimetres) wide.

According to Embedded Systems magazine the Exatron Stringy Floppy uses 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 Commodore VIC-20 and the 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 (US$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.[1] Known data capacities/tape length are: 4 KB/5 feet, 16 KB/20 feet, 48 KB/50 feet, and 64 KB/75 feet.[2]

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  1. ^ a b Barry, John (1981-08-31). "Stringy Floppy from Exatron". InfoWorld. pp. 47–48. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Reed, Matthew. "The Exatron Stringy Floppy". Retrieved 23 March 2014.