The funeral by Sony is
scheduled for March 31, 2010.
Sony Electronics, Inc.
will discontinue offering AIT drives and
library/automation systems on March 31, 2010. Now the
Japanese company manufactures only DAT320 tape drives
but continues to offer tape media.
AIT was one of the best tape technology, but with a
dreadful marketing. Introduced in 1996, the 3.5-inch
drive was based on a 8mm dual reel cartridge and helical
scan magnetic head with the idea to compete with Exabyte
Mammoth (also using 8mm helical scan) and Quantum DLT
(half-inch media and longitudinal recording).
At the end, there was nine generations of drives between
AIT-1 (25/3 - all figures here are native, without
compression) and the latest AIT-5 (400/24 with MR head),
supposed to compete with LTO, if we add several Turbo
and extended versions. AIT-6 (800/96) will not appear.
It was not easy for users to follow each step of the
roadmap. Furthermore, Sony did a big mistake with AIT-4
- as well as AIT-5 - that was not compatible with AIT-3
as promised, but only with the AIT-3Ex. And finally,
OEMs - except Compaq - were reluctant to adopt AIT as
there was no second source for the drives. Sony tries to
enter in many other storage devices (HDDs, disk-to-tape
units, autoloaders, libraries) but always failed, apart
from floppy disk and optical disc drives. Around half
million AIT drives has been sold in the world.
In 2001, Sony unveils at CeBIT the concept of a
formidable tape drive, the helical scan SAIT-1 with an
incredible capacity into an half-inch, single-reel
cartridge at this time, 500GB, and an excellent 30MB/s
transfer rate, and supposed to be followed by SAIT-2
(800/45) for its Petasite libraries, and then by 2TB in
2006 and 4TB in 2008. It was postponed to 2003 and never
really reach the market.
First introduction of 8mm AIT (25/3, then 35/4 for
extended version AIT-1 Turbo)
25,000 AIT-1 shipped
AIT-2 (35/6, then 50/6)
100,000 AIT-1 or -2 sold
AIT-3 (100/12 then 150/18)
SAIT-1 (500/30 then 800/45)
Sony decides to stop AIT
AIT Tape Media is still
available at BackupWorks.com as well as plenty of
refurbished/reconditioned AIT Tape Drives. In
addition we are still selling brand new
AIT Autoloaders and Tape Libraries
by Qualstar Corporation.