Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co says that at least one of the backers of its Travan tape technology, Hewlett-Packard Co, will have a 4Gb tape cartridge on the market before the end of the year. With Travan, 3M is trying to transform tape from an earnest but worthy back- up medium, to an affordable on-line, high capacity storage medium, and it has managed to get almost every player in the tape market to back it. Its most recent licensees are Exabyte Corp, Tandberg Data A/S, Aiwa Co Ltd, Teac Corp and Pertec Peripherals Corp. But it accepts that in order to change perceptions of what tape can be used for it needs some decent personal computer-based software with which to manage more than just back-up. To this end it has been working with Atlanta, Georgia-b ased (not Texas as we were first told) Chilli Pepper Software Inc on hierachical storage management software for individual users; and with PGSoft Inc, Pacific Grove, California, which will develop software called TapeIt that turns a tape drive into a logical drive, freeing it from servitude to the hard drive and making it part of a computer user’s everyday choice of where to save files. Both sets of software will work with any of the Travan backers’ products but there are no details on how they will be marketed, whether as separate applications or bundled with drives but they should be available at the end of the year. As for the future of Travan, which will store up to 7Gb by 1997, 3M said that it isn’t in the least bit alarmed at the prospect of Conner Peripherals Inc, one of the biggest players in the tape market and an early licensee of Travan, going to Seagate Technology Inc (CI No 2,754). 3M believes that Seagate, which has diversified away from its disk drive core with a string of software house purchases, has bought Conner to add a bit of diversity to its storage portfolio. Travan is based on Quarter Inch Cartridge designs and uses existing QIC drive and head technology, making it reasonably affordable. The latest TR-3 drives which can take 1.6Gb uncompressed, cost ú200 and the medium is ú30. And because it fits into the millions of existing QIC drives out there and the drives can read QIC tape, the company, and those producing the cartridges and drives, hope users of existing QIC cartridges will see Travan as their natural upgrade path for higher volume storage, rather than Digital Audio Tape.