Proud of that 100-megabyte disk drive you just added to your personal computer? Well, don't get too cocky. E-Systems Inc. in Dallas has just come out with a machine that can store 10 million times as much information. O. K., so it sells for $1 million and up. But it can easily store the equivalent of some 300 Libraries of Congress. It's Emass, a robotically controlled collection of digital videotape cartridges and player-recorders much like those used in television broadcasting. E-Systems jointly developed the system with Ampex Corp., a Redwood City (Calif.) video-recording pioneer.
Emass represents E-Systems' first commercial effort in several decades. With annual revenues of $1.8 billion, it's known mainly for building top-secret spying and reconnaissance hardware. Emass has already been ordered by five defense and intelligence agencies, all unidentified. The first commercial customer is Mobil Corp.'s oil-exploration arm, whose current library of geophysical data is stored on about 1 million standard computer tapes.