Artifact Details


IBM tape history - session 1: tape media

Catalog Number



Moving image


This is session one of five sessions held in Tucson, AZ, regarding IBM’s tape storage history. The five sessions are:

1. Tape Media (CHM catalog number: 102737991)
2. Overview of tape products and product management (CHM catalog number: 102737993)
3. 3480 tape drive (CHM catalog number: 102738020)
4. Linear Tape Open (LTO) Consortium (CHM catalog number: 102738022)
5. Recovery of tapes damaged in Challenger disaster (CHM catalog number: 102738024).

IBM’s tape development began in the late 1940s in the Kenyon Mansion, Poughkeepsie, NY, (later IBM’s management training site) and moved to the then new Poughkeepsie lab in 1954. The first production units shipped in 1952. In 1965 production and development moved to Boulder, Colorado, then from Boulder to San Jose, California in 1973 and then back to Boulder in 1977 . Its movement to Tucson, Arizona, was announced that same year and began in 1978.

IBM Tucson was responsible for a number of tape innovations including the 3480 tape drive and cartridge and the consortium that led to the LTO standard. Employment in Tucson peaked in the mid-1980s at more than 5,000. Production was ended at Tucson in the late 1980s. New media product development ended in 1988. New tape drive development ended in the mid-1990s. As of 2016 IBM in Tucson continued to participate in tape standards development as a part of the LTO Consortium as well as managing IBM storage products .
This session on media is primarily focused on the development of the chromium dioxide media first introduced by IBM for the 3480 tape drive; however it includes information on the earlier reel-to-reel tape media as well as the 3850 Mass Storage media.




Bradshaw, Richard, Panelist
Gardner, Tom, Moderator
Gaudet, Andrew, Panelist
Hendrie, Gardner, Videographer
Phillips, William, Panelist


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Tucson, AZ




Oral history


Storage history, tape

Collection Title

CHM oral history collection


Computer History Museum

Lot Number