Back to the top of the FAQ.

6. Robotics (Autochangers, Jukeboxes, Stackers, Libraries)

I use the term "robotics" to refer to access to multiple removable volumes by a fewer number of drives without a person. This includes sequential stackers, as well as random access robotics.

A stacker typically is capable of taking (literally) a stack of tapes and putting them into the drive one at a time, in order. No random access to specific tapes, as with a full-function autochanger. Stackers typically are limited to 8-10 cartridges, and are used by people whose backups have exceeded the size of one cartridge.

In the larger media formats, such as D-1, D-2, Betacam, etc., the traditional manufacturers of broadcast autochangers, such as Asaca, Odetics, Sony, etc. have products that are easily adaptable to storage use.

The August 1996 issue of Byte magazine has an article comparing 12 tape autochangers. It is a little misleading, not mentioning any of the truly large library systems, and only one midrange, whose capacity is quoted assuming DLT 7000 tape drives, which is never mentioned. In addition, much of their testing is more related to the drives than the autochangers.

6.1. 8mm {Brief}

6.1.1. Exabyte {Brief}

Phone: 800/EXABYTE, 1685 38th st, Boulder, CO 80301, Fax 303/447-7689. On the web at EXB-10h

Current model, 10 cartridges, one drive. Not Mammoth compatible. 70 GB, uncompressed. (rdv,96/8/29). EXB-210

2 drives, 11 cartridges, not Mammoth compatible. EXB-220

2 drives, 20 cartridges, Mammoth compatible (rdv,96/8/29). EXB-440/480

40 or 80 cartridges, 2 or 4 drives, Mammoth compatible. 1.6 TB uncompressed, with Mammoth. (rdv,96/8/29). EXB-10

Ten cartridges, one full-height drive. Original 10 cartridge robot. No robotic intelligence, when one tape comes out, the robot mounts the next tape in sequence (i.e. a kind of stacker). Button selectable to loop back to the first tape or to stop at the end. Discontinued. EXB-10i

Ten cartridges, one full-height drive. Released shortly after the EXB-10. Includes SCSI attachment to robotics. Now nearly replaced by the EXB-10e. Discontinued. EXB-10e

Ten cartridges, one full-height drive. Announced around 4/93. Includes better control panel and display than EXB-10i. Drive mounted horizontal and tape magazine at slight angle (rather than vice-versa in EXB-10i). Discontinued. EXB-120

Holds 120 8mm cartridges, up to four full-height drives. Discontinued.

6.1.2. ADIC {Brief, New}

I'm not sure if ADIC manufactures or OEMs their robotics, but they apparently sell to end users. They have 8mm, 4mm and DLT autochangers in a variety of small to medium sizes, up to about a terabyte. See (rdv,97/3/18)

6.1.3. Storage Tek (was Lago) DataWheel {Brief}

Holds 54 8mm tape cartridge in a carousel with 2 8mm drives. The carousels are removable. Now Storage Tek, used to be a small company called LAGO, which apparently no longer exists.

You'll find info at: (rdv, updated 1996/3/22)

6.1.4. ACL {None}

6.1.5. Cambridge On-Line Storage {Brief}

Sixty and 240 GB libraries, 713/981-3812

6.1.6. Spectra Logic {Brief}

Spectra Logic makes SCSI-controlled 8mm and 4mm (DAT) autochangers. One to four drives, with 20 to 60 slots. Capacity currently up to 600 GB of DDS-2 (4mm) or 300 GB 8mm. Early models (STL-6000 & STL-8000) were a rotating carousel. Newer ones use an arm and the tapes don't move.

Supported by a variety of software vendors. List prices of $9K (Spectra 4000/20 slots, one DDS-2 drive) to $31K (60 slots with four drives and barcode support) including drives.

They also make a thing called TapeFrame, which consists of several of their autochangers working in conjunction, with capacities up to 2.2 TB.

U.S.: 1-800-833-1132 or 303-449-6400

(Britt Terry,, 95/1/12)

See also under backup software, and on the web at

6.1.7. Qualstar {Brief}

Makes 8mm libraries that hold 10 to 120 cartridges and 2 to 6 drives. tel:(818)592-0116 fax:(818)592-0061 or (rdv,95/2/14)

Our TLS-4000 8mm library family now supports the Sony SDX-300C drive. Production shipments have started and enduser installations have occurred. Early field reports are completely positive.

TLS-4000 also supports Exabyte Mammoth and 8505XL drives.

(Bob Covey,, 96/10/22)

6.2. 3480

6.2.1. StorageTek {Brief}

Storage Tek makes huge autochangers, referred to as silos, round and several (~5) meters in diameter. They hold 6,000 3480-style tapes. At original 3480 densities, that's only 1.2 TB per silo, but capacities have gone up to (I think) 800 MB/cartridge, and are poised for a HUGE jump if Storage Tek gets their Redwood tape drive finished (in beta test, 12/94), up to 20 GB/cartridge, 120 TB/silo.

There is a smaller silo, known as WolfCreek, that holds 500-1000 cartridges.

STK also OEMs a 3480 autochanger from Odetics. Holds ~260 cartridges, I think, in rotating drum, with room for ?2? tape drives above it. (rdv,95/1/12) However, I couldn't find any info about this on the web site.

They also have a web site at (95/5/16,rdv)

All but the Odetics (known as Ocean, I think) are Redwood-compatible.

The new 9710 (codenamed Panther) can handle both DLT and 3480 cartridges in a mini-tower. (, 1996/3/12)

6.2.2. EMASS (was GRAU) {Brief}

Grau, a German manufacturer, makes high-end, very large capacity mixed-media autochangers known as the ABBA series, targetted I believe primarily at the IBM mainframe market. (rdv,94/11/7)

Bought by EMASS, see They support 3480, D-2, MO, VHS, DLT, 8mm all in one robot, so they renamed the autochanger series the AML, Automated Mixed-Media Libraries.

6.2.3. 3590 (Magstar,NTP) {Brief}

MountainGate has announced that they will have, later this year, a 300-cartridge autochanger.

IBM of course makes numerous autochangers for NTP; the 3494 and 3495 models both support it. More info at (They probably have smaller libraries, too.)

Word in the newsgroup has it that STK robots won't support Magstar due to the rivalry between IBM and STK.


6.3. 4mm {Brief}

6.3.1. Cambridge On-Line storage {Brief}

Libraries of 120 and 40 GB, 713/981-3812

6.3.2. Spectra Logic {Brief}

Spectra Logic makes SCSI-controlled 8mm and 4mm autochangers. See above under 8mm autochangers.

6.3.3. HP 4mm {Brief}

I think HP makes their own 4mm autochangers.

6.3.4. Storage Tek Datawheel {Brief}

The 4mm version. 25 cartridges, so up to 100GB uncompressed. Info at

6.3.5. Diverse Logistics Libra {Brief, New}

Two libraries, the Libra-8 and Libra-16, with 8 or 16 slots (32 or 64 GB uncompressed) and one DAT drive. Info at or (Europe), or ( (Marc SCHAEFER), 96/8/6)

6.3.6. Qualstar {Brief, New}


We are now shipping our TLS-2000 4mm tape library family. This product line consists of 6 models ranging from 1-2 drives with 18 tapes, to 1-4 drives with 144 tapes. All units include a mailbox and barcode support. I believe that the TLS-24144 is the largest 4mm library in production. TLS-2000 supports Seagate, Sony and HP DDS-2 drives and we are about to start testing the Sony SDT-9000 DDS-3 drive. (Bob Covey,, 96/10/22)

6.3.7. ADIC {Brief, New}

I'm not sure if ADIC manufactures or OEMs their robotics, but they apparently sell to end users. They have 8mm, 4mm and DLT autochangers in a variety of small to medium sizes, up to about a terabyte. See (rdv,97/3/18)

6.4. VHS {Brief}

6.4.1. MountainGate (was Metrum)

Metrum's data storage division was bought by Lockheed Martin and renamed MountainGate.

Autochangers for their VHS-based high-capacity (20GB, 2 MB/sec.) tape drive. They now have a stacker available for standalone drives.

Library of 960 GB (RSS-48b) holds 2 drives and 48 cartridges in a rotating drum.

Library of 12 TB (RSS-600b) holds 5 drives and 600 cartridges in less than 20 square feet of floor space. The tapes are held in rotating drums on each side, with the drives in a rack in between.

OEMs through Convex, IBM, and a host of resellers. Integrated with various backup and HSM packages, including UniTree from Convex & IBM, and AMASS from AAP.

See MountainGate also under MO and DLT autochangers.

A Lockheed Martin Company
9393 Gateway Drive
Reno NV
702-851-9393 Phone
702-851-5533 Fax

See them on the web at, but as of today (1996/3/19) doesn't have much on the high-end products.

6.5. Digital Linear Tape (DLT) (Quantum) {Brief}

T* names are DEC's names, DLT2* names are OEM names.

6.5.1. TZ877 {Brief}

        One TZ87 tape drive, 7 cartridges, each 10GB native
        Presumed to be the same as the DLT2700 library.
        Ref: Digital's Customer Update, March 14, 1994

6.5.2. TL820 {Brief}

        Holds 3 TZ87 tape drives, 264 catridges, five libraries attachable
        Presumed to be Odetics made (714/774-5000)
        About $150K U.S.
        Ref: Digital's Customer Update, March 14, 1994

6.5.3. MountainGate

At Comdex '94 in Vegas, Metrum (now MountainGate) introduced the D-900 (900 cartridges, up to 20 drives, 9TB uncompressed for DLT-2000) and D-360 (360 cartridges, up to 8 drives, 3.6 TB uncompressed for DLT-2000) DLT autochangers. There is an expansion unit with 480 cartridges which may hold two drives. Up to eight D-360 or D-480 units can be connected via passthrough. They also introduced 28 and 60 cartridge DLT autochangers. Customer shipments starting in early '95.

See VHS autochangers for contact info.

6.5.4. Breece Hill {Brief}

Breece Hill makes two small (28 and 60 cartridges) DLT autochangers. On the web at

Breece Hill Technologies, Inc.
6287 Arapahoe Avenue
Boulder, Colorado 80303 USA 

For more Information 1-800-941-0550 or 303-449-2673

6.5.5. Odetics {Brief}

Odetics makes a series of DLT libraries that hold, in the basic configuration, 3 DLT drives and 264 cartridges. See

6.5.6. MediaLogic ADL

MediaLogic ADL, Inc.
1965 57th Court
Boulder, CO 80301
Voice: 303-939-9780
Fax: 303-939-9745

They have desktop autochangers up to 26 DLT cartridges. See also on the web. Also have 4mm and 8mm autochangers that are similar. I don't know if they manufacturer these or OEM them. (rdv, 1996/3/19)

6.5.7. ADIC {Brief, New}

I'm not sure if ADIC manufactures or OEMs their robotics, but they apparently sell to end users. They have 8mm, 4mm and DLT autochangers in a variety of small to medium sizes, up to about a terabyte. See (rdv,97/3/18)

6.6. D-2

6.6.1. Ampex

Ampex makes their own autochangers for the DST DD-2 tape drive (see part 1 of the FAQ).

DST 410 Automated Cartridge Library:
Up to 1.2 terabytes capacity (uncompressed) in 7 square feet of floor space.
All 3 cartridge (cassette) sizes supported - 25, 75, 165 gigabytes
SCSI Medium Changer Commands or Ethernet NetSCSI protocol.
Console mounted configuration.
Single unit price:  $150K.

DST 810 Automated Cartridge Library:
Up to 6.4  terabytes (uncompressed) in 21 square feet of floor space.
Robotic performance of 600 cartridge exchanges per hour.
Average access time to any file less than 30 sec. (including cartridge
exchange, drive load and search to data).
1 to 4 tape drives per library.
Ethernet NetSCSI protocol robotics control.
Starting single unit price:  $300K.

(, 94/12/23)

6.6.2. Odetics

Odetics makes a thing called a DataTower that holds ~250 S-size D-2 cartridges. It used to be, but is no longer, sold through EMASS for use with the ER-90 (the Ampex/EMASS D-2 drive). It's a small silo that sits in front of one rack of drives.

They also make an expandable library known as the DataLibrary, with a maximum capacity of ten petabytes(!) (ten million gigabytes). A robot handler runs on a track down an aisle lined with cartridges, and tape drives at one (both?) end(s) of the aisle. I think the aisles can vary in length, and they can be lined up next to each other and I believe cartridges will pass between them.

(Note: since their acquisition of GRAU (above) EMASS no longer sells Odetics. I don't know if these are still available directly from Odetics and who you'd get to do the integration work. (rdv, from (Dave Barnes), 1996/3/22))

6.7. ID-1

6.7.1. Sony DMS, PetaSite {Brief}

Sony sells three autochangers for their ID-1 line of tape drives, based on their broadcast line of autochangers. These are known as the DMS Series, models 24, 300M, and 700M. Not surprisingly, they hold, respectively, 24 (S,M, or L cassettes), 300 (M only) and 700 (M only) cassettes for capacities of 2.3, 13, and 30 terabytes.

They have also announced something called PetaSite, which they claim expands to 3 petabytes and supports both ID-1 and DTF in a single system.

(rdv, 1996/3/22)

6.8. Optical Disk (MO,WORM) Libraries

Several other Japanese manufacturers make optical libraries, I think, mostly in support of their own drives. (SHMO)

6.8.1. Hitachi 448 GB optical library

12-inch worm, up to 7GB per platter, 2-4 drives, additional cartridge expansion unit increases capacity 560 GB to 1,008 GB. Drive rates up to 2.22 MB/sec. Phone: 800/HITACHI

6.8.2. HP MO Autochangers

Makes several models, from 16 disks and one drive up to 144 disks and ?4? drives. These are very popular.

6.8.3. Maxoptix MO Autochangers

Makes several models in the MaxLyb series, the 52, 120 and 180, which correspond to the capacity in gigabytes for 1.3 GB drives. They hold, respectively, 2 (52), 2 or 4 (120) and 2, 4 or 6 (180) drives.

They also have a fairly mysterious thing called the Axxis^26, a "high speed network file retrieval & backup server," which is obviously an MO autochanger, apparently bundled with a license for Palindrome Backup Director, suitable for attaching to your Netware file server?

tel: (408)954-9700, (800)848-3092
fax: (408)954-9711


6.8.4. MountainGate {Brief}

Now has the OSS-626, which holds 450-626 disks and 2-24 full-height HP drives. Also a new expandable multi-chassis autochanger similar to the D-360 DLT autochanger is available.

See VHS autochangers for contact info.

6.8.5. DISC DocuStore {Brief}

Makes large libraries (up to ~1,000 5.25" MO catridges, 2.6TB for standard MO or 4.6TB for non-standard); see (Stephen Fister , 96/8/7)

6.8.6. Kodak {Brief}

Kodak makes their own autochangers for their large (?12"?) optical drive.

6.8.7. Sony {Brief}

Sony makes their own jukeboxes for their 12" WORMs and for 5.25" MO. is the place to start.

6.9. CD-ROM Jukeboxes

6.9.1. Pioneer

From: (Mike Caplinger)
Subject: driver software for Pioneer DRM-5004X CDROM jukebox
Date: Tue Aug 23 10:09:00 PDT 1994
Organization: UTexas Mail-to-News Gateway
Lines: 13

Pioneer recently announced their DRM-5004X CDROM jukebox, which has
four quad-speed drives and holds 500 CDs for under $20,000.

        Mike Caplinger

Pioneer also has a 6-disk mini-changer, where SCSI LUNs 0-5 correspond to the individual disks; accessing one causes a mount. (Brian A Berg , 1996/3/29)

There's also an 18-disk model. You can find info on all three at (rdv, 96/8/5)

6.9.2. CyberTower {Brief, New} has frustratingly little info on a product that apparently is 7 CD-ROM drives made to behave like a single SCSI target. Not really an autochanger, more of an array. Not sure who the manufacturer is; the same unit is available from Procom (rdv,96/8/5)

6.9.3. NSMJukebox {Brief, New} describes what they call "the universe's fastest CD-ROM jukebox". 150 platters (90GB), up to four drives. (rdv, 96/8/5)

6.9.4. Nakamichi {Brief, New}

A 4-disk changer built on into an 8x reader. (rdv,96/8/5)

6.9.5. CDI Juke Box Library {Brief,New}

A 28-disk changer (standalone network server?) with up to four drives, and a built-in PC w/ 128 MB RAM and a 1GB disk. Available from (rdv,96/8/5)

6.9.6. K & S M-200 {Brief, New}

A 200-disk autochanger. Available from (rdv,96/8/5)

6.9.7. DISC {Brief, New}

Makes large libraries (up to ~1,500 media slots and up to 32 drives); see (Stephen Fister , 96/8/7)

6.9.8. Meridian {Brief, New}

CD Net Universal Server from Meridian, Not really an autochanger, but an array of CD-ROM drives in a box with an NFS or Netware interface. (rdv, 97/6/30)

My Home Page at Caltech

email me at

Copyright 1996 Rod Van Meter