IBM thin-film tape heads have evolved from the ferrite-based heads first used in the IBM Model 3480 Tape Drive to the hard-disk-drive (HDD) technology flat-profile heads used in IBM Linear Tape-Open® (LTO®) products. This paper describes that transition and discusses the flat tape head manufacturing processes, drive implementation, performance, and outlook. Thin-film head technology for hard-disk drives was first used in tape heads in the early 1990s, when IBM built quarter-inch cartridge head images on HDD-type wafers. This was a springboard for the next step, flat-lapped tape heads, which use not only HDD wafers, but also HDD post-wafer machining technologies. With the emergence of LTO, flat heads entered mainstream tape head production in IBM. These have proven to have high performance and durability.
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