LOL, the gauge is something that we didn't have. We did have small spray cans of iron filings in a solvent that you could spray on a magnetic tape to "look" at the bits. We had drives from several manufacturers that didn't like to play nice with each other. Alignment was very tricky to get the tapes to be interchangeable between systems - Honeywell 516 and Data General Nova IIs mostly.
There's never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over...
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