capstan

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cap·stan / ˈkapstən/ • n. a revolving cylinder with a vertical axis used for winding a rope or cable, powered by a motor or pushed around by levers. ∎  the motor-driven spindle on a tape recorder that makes the tape travel past the head at constant speed.

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capstan The component of a tape transport that transmits motion (sometimes indirectly) to the magnetic tape and controls the speed of its motion past the head; the motion of the tape reels is usually separately controlled. Streaming tape transports often have no capstan.

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capstan XIV. — Pr. cabestan, earlier cabestran, of unkn. orig.

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