(1) A slow, low-capacity, sequential storage medium used on earlier computing and communications devices. Paper tape holds data as patterns of punched holes.
(2) A paper roll printed by a calculator or cash register.
Paper tape was widely used in the early years of computing as a storage medium. Its capacity of only a handful of characters per inch seems pitiful by today's storage standards.
Paper Tape on a Flexowriter
In the 1950s, this typewriter-like device was used to punch data into tape for the Whirlwind and SAGE computers (see Whirlwind
). For validation, another operator might type the data all over again having the machine compare a second set of keystrokes with the already-punched tape. (Image courtesy of The MITRE Corporation Archives.)