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Vintage Tape (Audio), Cassette, Wire and Magnetic Disc Recorders and Players Open-reel tape recorders, cassette recorders, 8-track players etc.

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Old 12th Apr 2019, 8:07 pm   #1
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Default Ilford Tape & GCHQ

Whist doing some random browsing on the internet today, I came across a tape with a curious label. From what I can tell, it appears that the manufacture of the tape was specifically contracted by GCHQ?

Is anyone familiar with this sort of thing? I've attached a picture of the label that sparked my curiosity.
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Old 12th Apr 2019, 8:33 pm   #2
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Default Re: Ilford Tape & GCHQ

I imagine GCHQ bought huge amounts of tape at one time. I didn't know Ilford was a manufacturer though - maybe they bought it in from somebody else. It's possible Ilford supplied all their photo stuff and they preferred to buy everything from a single supplier, especially if security vetting was involved.
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Old 12th Apr 2019, 8:46 pm   #3
Ted Kendall
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Default Re: Ilford Tape & GCHQ

Ilford did actually make tape, and pretty good it was, too - the tape business became part of Racal and, amongst other products, supplied 675 to the BBC - one of the finest analogue tapes ever made.
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Old 13th Apr 2019, 12:23 am   #4
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Default Re: Ilford Tape & GCHQ

Ilford Zonal rings a bell.
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Old 13th Apr 2019, 3:53 am   #5
tony brady
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Default Re: Ilford Tape & GCHQ

I still have 2 Racal Zonal ferric cassettes. good quality as well for a budget tape
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Old 13th Apr 2019, 9:08 am   #6
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Default Re: Ilford Tape & GCHQ

If it was actually used tape, it could contain 3600 ft of state secrets
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Old 13th Apr 2019, 9:10 am   #7
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Default Re: Ilford Tape & GCHQ

Historically there have been various central purchasing operations who did procurement for Government agencies; they would issue the spec, arrange the manufacture, and handle the flow of your tax-money to pay for it all. In the 1970s it was "The Crown Suppliers", before that it was a division of the Property Services Agency (PSA) - who also supplied lots of stuff to the Post Office which was then still a Crown body. Prior to that we had the Ministry of Works and the Ministry of Supply doing it.

I guess whichever of these was active at the time would have contracts for quite a bit of tape: not just for GCHQ but for the likes of the emergency services (recording 999 calls) and airports (recording ground-to-air comms). I remember ordering 80-column computer punch-cards via Property Services Agency contract!
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Old 13th Apr 2019, 2:21 pm   #8
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Default Re: Ilford Tape & GCHQ

A lot of Ilford tape was made for them by Pyral of France - especially the Zonal brand - and yes it was very good tape as Pyral held the sole mainland Europe Scotch/3M licence. Zonal long held Pyral's UK license but Zonal was put up for sale in 1963 when their founders retired... at which Ilford bought them

Zonal's main business was sound-track film stock. Racal acquired the Ilford-Zonal audio business in 1971. (The Ilford photographic operations went into administration in 2004 .. but survives through an MBO.) Simples!

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Old 16th Apr 2019, 3:04 am   #9
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Default Re: Ilford Tape & GCHQ

Some time ago I bought a mixed box of 3" EMI tapes. Half of them had details about improving the boundary security at RAF Marham.

A few even had internal messages from the station Commander to the Swedish manufacturer of Bofors guns and details of commissioning them around the perimeter of the airbase.

From information on the tapes, it seemed to be around 1960.
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