RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 140,159
Posts: 5,434,722
Members: 24,937
Currently online: 601
Newest member: bryanb2014

TrekToday headlines

Two Official Starships Collection Ships
By: T'Bonz on Oct 22

Pine In New Skit
By: T'Bonz on Oct 21

Stewart In Holiday Film
By: T'Bonz on Oct 21

The Red Shirt Diaries #8
By: T'Bonz on Oct 20

IDW Publishing January Comics
By: T'Bonz on Oct 20

Retro Review: Chrysalis
By: Michelle on Oct 18

The Next Generation Season Seven Blu-ray Details
By: T'Bonz on Oct 17

CBS Launches Streaming Service
By: T'Bonz on Oct 17

Yelchin In New Indie Thriller
By: T'Bonz on Oct 17

Saldana In The Book of Life
By: T'Bonz on Oct 17


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > Star Trek - Original Series

Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old December 12 2012, 07:40 PM   #1
Mr Awe
Rear Admiral
 
TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

So, I'm having a silly debate about the microtapes on TOS. Those are the plastic, square things that Spock pushes into the computer.

My take is that they're fairly equivalent to floppy discs. They could read and write, store data, etc.

His take is that they're more equivalent to punch cards. They primarily supplied inputs to the computer.

Who's right? And, which episodes more strongly support it? I'd like to be able to point to a specific episode as proof!

Thanks!
Mr Awe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 08:07 PM   #2
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

We do know for a fact that data can be recorded on the tape cards; for instance, in "Wink of an Eye," Kirk records his message to Spock on a microtape and leaves it where Spock will find it. There's also Kirk's "last message" tape from "The Tholian Web." Earlier, in "Balance of Terror," we saw Uhura giving Spock a microtape containing the recording she'd just made of the transmission from the Romulan ship.

Remember that at the time, computer data was stored on magnetic tape, which was why TOS so often referenced "data tapes" and the like. But that tape was stored on large reels, like on those old-timey computers you used to see in TV and movies. The microtapes were presumably meant to be a more compact form of computer tape, in the same way that audio cassette tapes, which were a brand new, cutting-edge technology at the time of TOS, were a more compact version of reel-to-reel audiotape. Basically the makers of TOS were combining the ideas of computer tape, audiotape, and videotape (which did exist at the time and was used in the TV industry) with the "futuristic" compactness of the audiocassette and projecting it forward to an even more compact tape cartridge.

So both you and your friend are focusing on the wrong portions of the history of computer storage; punch cards were too early and floppy discs too late. They were extrapolating from the tape storage media that were standard at the time.

(I'm reminded of the origin of the tricorder -- it was an extrapolation from the portable audiocassette recorders that were cutting-edge at the time, but with sensor and computer functions added on, hence a tri-function recorder. Audiocassettes are so quaint to us that we don't realize how futuristic they seemed when TOS was being made.)
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 4/8/14 including annotations for Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel

Written Worlds -- My blog
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 08:23 PM   #3
Indysolo
Fleet Captain
 
Indysolo's Avatar
 
Location: Sunny California
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

Christopher wrote: View Post
Remember that at the time, computer data was stored on magnetic tape, which was why TOS so often referenced "data tapes" and the like.
"Record tapes".

Neil
__________________
"Garret Wang's costume was so 'West Hollywood', I offered to be best man at his wedding."
-Walter Koenig on Garret Wang's Of Gods and Men costume
Indysolo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 08:30 PM   #4
Draculasaurus
Lieutenant Commander
 
Draculasaurus's Avatar
 
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

On the other hand;
In Space Seed, Khan asks for something to read. Kirk sticks a microtape in the viewer and says "Doctor McCoy will show you how to tie in to the library tapes."

That kind of sounds like the microtapes are more like software- One would have a reading program which accesses a computer elsewhere, and another has a program for realigning the sensors or whatever.
Draculasaurus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 08:34 PM   #5
Indysolo
Fleet Captain
 
Indysolo's Avatar
 
Location: Sunny California
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

Kirk also writes to them in "Mirror, Mirror". They're very versatile and have all sorts of names apparently.

Neil
__________________
"Garret Wang's costume was so 'West Hollywood', I offered to be best man at his wedding."
-Walter Koenig on Garret Wang's Of Gods and Men costume
Indysolo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 08:47 PM   #6
Mr Awe
Rear Admiral
 
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

Christopher wrote: View Post
We do know for a fact that data can be recorded on the tape cards; for instance, in "Wink of an Eye," Kirk records his message to Spock on a microtape and leaves it where Spock will find it. There's also Kirk's "last message" tape from "The Tholian Web." Earlier, in "Balance of Terror," we saw Uhura giving Spock a microtape containing the recording she'd just made of the transmission from the Romulan ship.
Good examples, I'll use them!

Remember that at the time, computer data was stored on magnetic tape, which was why TOS so often referenced "data tapes" and the like. But that tape was stored on large reels, like on those old-timey computers you used to see in TV and movies. The microtapes were presumably meant to be a more compact form of computer tape, in the same way that audio cassette tapes, which were a brand new, cutting-edge technology at the time of TOS, were a more compact version of reel-to-reel audiotape.

So both you and your friend are focusing on the wrong portions of the history of computer storage; punch cards were too early and floppy discs too late. They were extrapolating from the tape storage media that were standard at the time.
Actually, we did discuss magnetic tapes and the analogy to the microtapes. And, we talked about floppy discs, but didn't think of the audio tapes.

However, you're incorrect, punch cards were used up to the 80s believe it or not. During the 60s, magnetic tape was starting to take off but punch cards were still widely used.

And, floppy discs were just about to go on the market. First floppy discs were introduced in 1972 and obviously were being developed around the time TOS was on the air.

However, that's all kind of besides the point, at least for our debate. We were debating functionally what were the microdiscs capable of and what were they more similar to.

Thanks for the examples and audio cassette analogy, very helpful!

Mr Awe
Mr Awe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 08:52 PM   #7
SchwEnt
Fleet Captain
 
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

There's also the possibility that they are something else entirely.

Our own real-life computer tech has gone from vacuum tubes to paper punch cards to magnetic reels to optical discs to you name it. And that's only in decades.

TOS centuries from now? Those TOS squares? They may well be something that doesn't have any modern-day equivalent, a kind of computer tech that seems familiar but may be unlike anything we have today.

I'm just saying. Could be.
SchwEnt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 09:05 PM   #8
Christopher
Writer
 
Christopher's Avatar
 
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

^I wasn't talking about what they would hypothetically be in-universe, but about the intentions and inspirations of the 1960s TV writers/producers who created them.

And Mr Awe, I didn't mean that punch cards weren't still in use in the '60s; I was speaking more in terms of the relative sequence of the various technologies' inventions, with magnetic tape coming along in between punch cards and floppies. Of course there was plenty of overlap in the actual use of the various technologies.
__________________
Christopher L. Bennett Homepage -- Site update 4/8/14 including annotations for Rise of the Federation: Tower of Babel

Written Worlds -- My blog

Last edited by Christopher; December 12 2012 at 09:18 PM.
Christopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 09:07 PM   #9
Dalen Quaice
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

They look a lot like solid state hard drives to me!
Dalen Quaice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 09:26 PM   #10
Indysolo
Fleet Captain
 
Indysolo's Avatar
 
Location: Sunny California
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

Dalen Quaice wrote: View Post
They look a lot like solid state hard drives to me!
Or slices of Velveeta.

Neil
__________________
"Garret Wang's costume was so 'West Hollywood', I offered to be best man at his wedding."
-Walter Koenig on Garret Wang's Of Gods and Men costume
Indysolo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 09:29 PM   #11
Mr Awe
Rear Admiral
 
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

SchwEnt wrote: View Post
There's also the possibility that they are something else entirely.
I'm just saying. Could be.
That's entirely possible, in fact, probably the most likely! But, we were comparing functionality. I was surprised by our different views on it. I thought it was clearly read/write and more similiar to floppy discs/flash drives regardless of what technology was at the heart of it.

Christopher wrote: View Post
And Mr Awe, I didn't mean that punch cards weren't still in use in the '60s; I was speaking more in terms of the relative sequence of the various technologies' inventions, with magnetic tape coming along in between punch cards and floppies. Of course there was plenty of overlap in the actual use of the various technologies.
Definitely true! At the time TOS aired, tapes were the growing technology, floppy discs soon to debut, but punch cards still dominated.

Dalen Quaice wrote: View Post
They look a lot like solid state hard drives to me!
Agree, for technology that we actually have, they seem closest to flash drives. However, I suspect that the producers envisioned actual tape inside of them!

Mr Awe
Mr Awe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 09:33 PM   #12
Daddy Todd
Captain
 
Daddy Todd's Avatar
 
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

Indysolo wrote: View Post
Dalen Quaice wrote: View Post
They look a lot like solid state hard drives to me!
Or slices of Velveeta.

Neil

Even the green ones? Time to throw out that loaf of Velveeta.

Or, maybe, "Green Microtapes are PEOPLE!"
Daddy Todd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 09:38 PM   #13
backstept
Rear Admiral
 
backstept's Avatar
 
Location: Syracuse
View backstept's Twitter Profile Send a message via AIM to backstept Send a message via Windows Live Messenger to backstept
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

What were the props actually made of? Were they painted wood, or were they plastic?
__________________
| Hi I'm Gauis Blatar lol
| backstept.blogspot.com | about.me
backstept is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 09:42 PM   #14
Mytran
Fleet Captain
 
Mytran's Avatar
 
Location: North Wales
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

I think they were just painted squares of wood - the cheaper to produce, the better!
Mytran is offline   Reply With Quote
Old December 12 2012, 10:17 PM   #15
George Steinbrenner
Fleet Admiral
 
George Steinbrenner's Avatar
 
Location: Mr. Laser Beam is in the visitor's bullpen
View George Steinbrenner's Twitter Profile
Re: TOS Microtapes: help me settle a debate!

I always wondered why we'd see somebody working at their console on the bridge, recording something on one of those tapes - then they get up, walk two feet across the bridge, and hand the tape to someone else at the very next station. Like they can't just send the data right to the other officer's screen?
__________________
It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shakes, the shakes become a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
George Steinbrenner is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 10:48 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.