The ITC 1K
In the 1960s, a control room might have one or two cart machines.
In the 1970s, radio stations were converting entire playlists to cartridge, using three, four, five, six, or more cart machines in some studios. Some had "Cart Walls" of hundreds of carts holding currents, oldies, spot announcements, and promos. Others used huge rotating cart racks, sometimes two or three 250-cart racks in one room.
While some station's automated programming using one of the many automation systems, they were too limited in flexibility if they used the reel-to-reel tapes for music, but otherwise would need live people all night to load the music.
ITC decided to address the issue with the 1K. 1048(!) slot of carts feeding six (to 20) ITC SP reproducers, all orchestrated by a Z80 microprocessor - the heart of PCs like the TRS-80, Sinclair, and others. Access time was said to be five seconds to any cart. Up to eight systems could be integrated in one installation. 8192 carts on hand. (Can I hear a WOW!?)
Shown at the 1977 NAB show, it drew a lot of interest. Delivery was planned for 1979. The SP machines turned into 99 reproducers.
But the project stalled. Among other things, a lack of documentation killed the 1K project: "It was going to take our best engineer one year just to document the system," according to John Schaab. Only one was built. It lived as aa automated telephone library system at the University of Wisconsin, Madison for about 10 years. Technology moved too fast - and this Z-80 based machine was obsolete almost as soon as it was designed.
A promotional video is available here.
|The largest cart system ever attempted, the ITC 1K|
|Up to 20 reproducers could be installed in each machine, up to eight of them could be linked in a studio - for a total of 8192 carts available in five seconds!|
|Bigger than a breadbox!|