[BBC-Micro] Digital Services Digistore Tape Drive

Ian Wolstenholme BBCMailingList at beebmaster.co.uk
Wed Dec 20 14:58:02 GMT 2006

It's highly possible that the Winchester which came with it is
the one that was used with the tape drive.  Unfortunately
the Winchester had been reformatted when it arrived and I
have further re-formatted it several times in an attempt to
get it to format to the correct size, ie. 30MB.

It could well be that the tape software which may have been on the 
Winchester is on one of the backup tapes!!!  Bit of a catch-22
situation there I think!

Best wishes,


----- Original Message -----
From: Jules Richardson [mailto:julesrichardsonuk at yahoo.co.uk]
To: bbc-micro at lists.cloud9.co.uk
Sent: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 06:47:34 -0600
Subject: Re: [BBC-Micro] Digital Services Digistore Tape Drive

Ian Wolstenholme wrote:
> Inside the box apart from the drive is a genuine Acorn Winchester
> Disc host adapter and power supply.

huzzah :) Looking good, then.

> I wonder if it's supposed to plug into the back of the Winchester
> Disc given that the tape unit only has one 1MHz connector?  I
> can't see that would help in terms of getting it running though,
> I am sure special software would still be needed.

Possibly, although for the purposes of getting it working it won't *need* to 
have the drive plugged in too.

However... do you have the Winchester that may have been connected to the same 
machine as this drive? There's a chance it might contain the necessary 
software (rather than it being stored elsewhere on a random floppy).

I've just pulled the OMTI 5300/5400 manual off the shelf; it was a bridge 
board between SCSI and QIC-02 interfaced tape drives. Seems that there's a 
whole subset of SCSI commands for handling tapes (such as retension, rewind 
etc.) which don't apply to disks, so you'd definitely need tape-aware software 
to send the necessary commands over the SCSI bus.

> I'm wondering who Digital Services were, since they have used
> an actual Acorn board inside this unit, and the overall design
> is practically identical to the Winchester Disc. 

It is interesting. There must have been some agreement between Acorn and 
Digital Services; even if SCSI boards were readily available from Acorn 
without the complete Winchester, there must still have been some agreement to 
allow DS to repackage the board and sell it as part of their own product.

What you've got seems pretty unique, though. The only other 'tape drive for 
Acorns' that I can think of is the one for the SJ MDFS, and I'm not sure 
whether that counts as it plugs into the MDFS main unit and not a bit of Acorn 
kit :)

 > I can't recall having seen actual Acorn gear inside third party
 > products before.

Torch did it extensively with their range of kit that used a BBC micro board 
for I/O, I suppose.

Then there are a few 'grey areas':

   Reuters systems and the CUBE Eurobeeb may or may not count (because they 
were re-works of Acorn schematics rather than outright borrowing of kit)

   British Rail platform display systems and BT exchange monitoring / control 
systems. Having never seen physical examples of either though I can't say 
whether they were rebranded as someone else's product or not.

 > I wonder if they were some sort of subdivision of Acorn or spin-off
> company?

Possibly. On the one hand, you'd think that more people would know of them if 
so. But on the other, hardly anyone seems to know anything about Qudos...



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