The IBM 726 dual magnetic tape reader/recorder for the IBM 701 was announced on May 21, 1952. Unlike later IBM 7 track drives, the 726 could read backwards as well as forwards.
The tape had seven parallel tracks, six for data (called a copy group, not a character) and one to maintain parity. Tapes were recorded in odd parity, to ensure at least one bit transition per copy group as well as for error checking. 
The 726 concurrently handled two reels of tape, and there were two 726 units in an IBM 701 system.