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That's it for analog then - the tape's run out

The era of analog tape is at an end. You just can't buy the stuff any more...

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The bad news for die-hard analog fans is that Quantegy, the last major company manufacturing analog audio tape, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday January 10, 2005. For those not familiar with US bankruptcy law, it's like this - anywhere else in the world they would simply have gone bust.

Some companies have come back from the brink, United Airlines to name just one. But it seems that the writing is on the wall.

Try to find a reel of 2-inch analog tape suitable for 24-track recording and you will find that they have all sold out. Some retailers have been reported as marking up prices by as much as 40% above the regular price of around $140 a reel.

This problem does not only affect recording studios. Apparently NASA use analog tape recorders on their space shuttles and have an outstanding order for twenty reels. As though they don't have enough problems.

Quantegy's potential bankruptcy does not stem from analog tape itself, which accounted for $6 million of $30 million sales in 2004. However the company lost a major video tape customer leading to cash flow difficulties. Quantegy's management now believe that an injection of $10 million will bridge that gap and get the company back in action.

Any donations will undoubtedly be gratefully received.

By the way - at the time of writing a single reel of Quantegy tape is listed at $227 on eBay, with nine hours still to go...

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By David Mellor Wednesday February 2, 2005
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