This is Rob Jarratts' DECstation 2100 with a TZ85 tape drive. He's been trying really hard to restore data from our old TK50 backup tapes made by our DEC MicroVAX back in 1988.
The first tape we tried was, unfortunately, not readable. This might be for any number of reasons. Old tapes tend to die or sometimes old tape can stick to the drive head and quickly turn into a horrible mess. Of course, it's even possible that the tape is blank - despite what the label says. Because no one can actually remember exactly what was on each of the tapes.
He's going to try reading another tape, and I'm rather hoping we do manage to restore the old files. These files will hopefully be the source code to the Magnetic Scrolls classic adventure games.
If we recover the files, the source code is going to be published on the website for historical interest. It will be an insight to anyone curious about how these games were developed over 30 years ago.
There's more! It might even be possible to re-build the games using the original tools. The tools have already been recovered from what appeared to be a blank ZIP disk. Magnetic Scrolls wrote all their own tools, which built the source code into a binary image for their virtual machine.
These tools were written in "C", and have been updated to compile and run on modern machines. It will be most interesting to see if we can rebuild the old games from their source code - and run them!
Of course, the tools and their source code will also be published. You could even build your own custom versions of the original games. And that's exactly what we plan to do with our remastering project.
Let's hope Rob manages to restore the old backups before they really do fade away forever.