Penny and Giles Data Systems

Penny and Giles Data Systems acquired Thorn EMI Datatech in 1987 as part of the Penny and Giles group of companies.

Penny and Giles was chiefly known for its range of transducers, and its very successful aviation flight data recorders. The company flourished until acquired by Bowthorpe Holdings, subsequently Spirent. The fit was poor, and the Penny and Giles companies were gradually wound down or disposed.

Picture of Exhibition Stand

Exhibition Stand Penny & Giles Data Systems, c1989

At this time, the European connection secured funding for development of a specialised system for the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe  headquartered in the Netherlands. Very Long Baseline Interferometry requires the processing of vast amounts of data from geographically spaced sources. At the time the only way of doing this was to record on magnetic tape at various Radio Astronomy sites around the globe, then send the tapes to a central processing facility for correlation. This requirement stretched the technology to the limit with very fine tracks ( up to 8000 across one inch tape) and servo controlled tracking. Here is a modified prototype recorder.

Picture of modified VLBI tape recorder.

A MDR recorder modified for VLBI



SE7000 Instrumentation Tape recorder









Penny and Giles Data Systems Brochure














Multiband Data Recorder

MDR Specification

Sirius Data Recorder  – containing the first brushless DC motor servo system

Pegasus Data Cassette Recorder