In the early 1990s, IBM extended the capabilities of its 3480 product family by launching the 36-track 3490E drive and a new extended-length chromium dioxide tape. The 3490E provided 800MB of storage in the same cartridge format as the earlier 3480. With Improved Data Recording Capability (IDRC), introduced in 1986, the capacity of the 3490E was expanded to over 2.4GB, the highest data capacity at that time.
The IBM 3490 Enhanced Capability (3490E) Model A10 and A20 Control Units and B20 and B40 Drive Units were the newest members of the 3490 family of Magnetic Tape Subsystems when they were announced in February 1991. The B20 and B40 Tape Drive Units wrote in a new Enhanced Capability format. The new Enhanced Capacity Cartridge System Tape doubled the storage capacity of the cartridge and could reduce the number of cartridges needed for normal back-up and archival operations. Another benefit of the 3490E was that it could use IBM's new ESCON (Enterprise Systems Connection architecture) channel interface -- first delivered in 1987 -- to locate the tape subsystem up to 23 km (14.2 miles) from the processor (ES/3090, ES/9000, ES/9370, 308x or 4381).
At announcement, the A10 could be purchased for $62,100, the A20 for $117,100, the B20 for $72,000 and the B40 for $113,000. Those models were scheduled for initial deliveries in April 1991.
Also announced in February 1991 were the Models D41 and D42, which offered significant performance and cartridge capacity improvements to midrange and intermediate system users. They were designed to be used primarily for save/restore and data interchange, and could be attached to IBM ES/3090, ES/9000, ES/9370, 308x or 4381 processors. Available for initial deliveries in the summer of 1991, the D41 could be purchased for $71,900 and the D42 for $99,900.