A rolled length of punched paper tape in a plastic box.

The punched paper tape is a software program for a Hewlett Packard Model 2100A computer which was released in 1971. The types of software programs were diagnostic utilities and drivers for the various components, subsystems, interfaces and peripherals of these computers. Paper tape was a reliable and inexpensive (although slow) method of loading and storing programs, prior to magnetic discs and tapes, and was still in use in the 1970s.

This punched paper tape program is part of a collection of objects associated with a HP 2100A mini-computer that was used by Trans Australian Airlines (TAA) for similutions of Fokker Friendship aero engine performance in Melbourne.

Physical Description

A clear, hinged, plastic box (with a central hole) containing a coil of blue paper with holes punched in it. There is a plastic spool in the box. The manufacturer's name is printed on the tape as well as the handwritten program name in black pen.

More Information

  • Collecting Areas

    Information & Communication

  • Acquisition Information

    Donation from Qantas Flight Training Centre, Australian Airlines, 09/1994

  • Manufacturer

    Hewlett-Packard, Australia, 1971

  • User

    Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA), Essendon, Greater Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1971

  • Inscriptions


  • Classification

    Computing & calculating, Digital computing, Software

  • Category

    History & Technology

  • Discipline


  • Type of item


  • Overall Dimensions

    135 mm (Width), 135 mm (Depth), 31 mm (Height)
    Above dimensions are for the box. Paper tape width is 25 mm.

  • References

    Paper Tape software summary at HP Museum webiste: "The museum has over 250 software programs for the original HP 2000/1000 computers on punched paper tape. Many of the programs are diagnostic utilities for the various components, subsystems, interfaces and peripherals of these old computers. Many other programs are drivers for peripherals. The collection includes many different drivers for a variety of peripherals. A different driver is required for each operating system (eg RTE or DOS). It was common for a different driver to be loaded for a given operating system based on the amount of main memory residing in the computer (eg 4K, 8K, 16K). The collection also includes programming languages (BASIC, Fortran, Algol, Assembler)." [Link 1] - Retrieved 29 Jun 2010 (M. Vaughan) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A summary of paper tape from the HP Museum "In the 1960s, the primary means of mass storage in the computer industry was paper, either punched tape or punched cards. The media (paper) and the hardware (readers and punchers) for this technology were relatively inexpensive. Paper tapes and cards were also reliable. However, paper had many drawbacks. It was very slow; loading programs from punched tape or cards took a long time. Compared to subsequent magnetic media, paper was not a dense storage medium. Many cards, or many meters of paper tape were required to hold even basic programs or data files. Technically, paper was also a WORM technology (Write Once, Read Many), a term that came into being in the 1980s, during the early days of magneto-optical technology. So, if a programmer needed to change a single line on a program, he/she had to load the program in the usual slow manner, input changes to the program, then punch out the entire program again onto new tape or onto a new set of cards. Punched cards had the added disadvantage of needing to be kept in the exact correct order at all times. If one card (in say a 100-card program) was input in the wrong order, the program would not be correctly read by the computer. Although magnetic discs and tapes became available by 1970, paper storage technology was still used throughout the 1970s." [Link 2] - Retrieved 29 Jun 2010 (M. Vaughan) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Background on HP 2100A computer from HP Museum website "The 2100A replaced the 2116, 2115 and 2114 in 1971. The 2100A was compatible with the earlier computers and used the same I/O boards. It was the industry's first microprogrammable minicomputer. The 2100A included an integrated power supply and came with 14 I/O channels within the mainframe (externally expandable to 45 channels). The power supply was auto-switching between 115V and 230V (the first in a minicomputer). Like the 211X computers that it superceded, the 2100A used magnetic core memory. It came standard with 4K words of memory, upgradable within the mainframe to 32K words. Other new features introduced by the 2100A included: memory protect, dual channel DMA and an optional hardware floating point processor. Main boards for the 2100A: A1: 02100-60014, A2: 02100-60002, A3: 02100-60004, A4: 02100-60022, A5: 02100-60001, A6: 02100-60003, A7: 02100-60024, A8: 02100-60007, A9: 12895-60001, SSA: 5060-8331, XYD: 02100-60012, DC: 02100-60011, IDL: 02100-60010, ID(16K): 02100-60009. Over 8,000 units of 2100A and 2100S computers were sold by the time the machines were obsoleted in April of 1978." [Link 3] - Retrieved 29 Jun 2010 (M. Vaughan)

  • Keywords

    Computer Programming, Computer Software, Computer Storage Devices, Computers, Flight Simulators