In a move that the Tape is Dead Marching Band and Chowder Society will take as yet another victory in its battle to have magnetic tape join drum memory, mercury delay lines and its punched-paper cousin on the scrap heap of obsolete data storage technologies, Imation announced that it is closing its Weatherford, Okla., tape coating plant.
The Weatherford plant was the last coating plant in the United States, and its closing ends Imation's history as a leader in producing tape, floppy disks and other magnetic media. As a 3M spin-off, Imation carried the legacy of 3M's legendary Black Watch 9-track tape, the QIC cartridge and other significant breakthroughs.
Imation is now converting itself into a brand management company producing flash drives, RDX cartridges, optical media and external hard drives, and, of course, magnetic tape cartridges under the Imation, Memorex and TDK (under license from Japan's TDK) brands.
After the April closing of the Weatherford plant, the tape in Imation cartridges will be made at TDK's Yamanashi plant in Japan. This leaves just five vendors actually making magnetic tape: Hitachi/Maxell, Sony, TDK, Fuji and Mitsubishi/Verbatim, all in Japan.