With disk drives being as pricy as they were, Commodore needed a cheap substitute that it's beloved masses, whether schools or home users, could afford. The result is one of the slowest data transmission devices ever conceived by man.
However, these units did accept standard old cassette tapes, not unlike the ones we still use today. They encoded their data using digital tones, which sounded like high piched squeels when listened to on a normal tape player. They interfaced with every Commodore 8-bit computer using a special datasette port intended for that purpose.
See the manual for this drive.
Commodore Datasettes were actually the most common mass-storage devices for users of the more popular Commodore computers, such as the VIC-20 and C64. Especially in Europe, where disk drive prices were extremely high, datasettes remained popular almost as long as those computers did!
Different styles of the Commodore 1530/C2N Tape Drives. Just a sample of my collection. There were other styles as well, many of which are also in this collection, though I don't have pictures of them at present.
Pictured here is the Commodore 1531 Cassette Drive. Although otherwise identical to the C2N/1530 drives pictures above, the 1531 used a slightly different connector specifically found on the 264 series computers. The way the 264 series stored data on these units is also different, meaning that tapes recorded on a 1531 plugged into a 264 series computer are not readable by a Commodore 64 using a 1530. The 1531 often come with a plug-compatible adaptor for use with the C64 and VIC-20, rendering it compatible. This did not change the incompatibility between the C64/VIC and 264 series write format, however.
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