Re: Paper tape anyone?
The thing with paper tape is it is pretty easy to knock-up homebrew equipment which will read it; mechanical, optical, or even electrostatic. Same too for punch cards.
An old ASR33 reader can be interfaced to any microcontroller reasonably easily and there are quite a few around. It's more advanced tech which is harder; especially where the protocol and/or interface is not so obvious just from looking at it.
If the data is on a 'VAX tape' it makes sense to read that on a VAX drive and use a VAX to connect to that running VAX software which can access it. No need to reinvent the wheel.