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Magnetization

Magnetization, the alignment of magnetic dipoles in iron and other ferromagnetic metals, has been used to store information since the invention of the wire recorder in 1898 by Valdemar Poulsen. The invention of the telephone twenty-two years earlier had demonstrated that sound could be converted to a varying electric current and back again. Poulsen realized that such a current could also drive an electromagnet to record the signal as variations in the magnetization of a moving steel wire. Those variations were an analog of the original sound wave.

Since then, magnetization has been used to store everything from sound to video to data in both analog and digital form. It can be applied to any geometry that can be moved past the recording head, including tape, disks, cards, belts and sheets. It can be written and read quickly enough to handle large amounts of information in real time. It can be erased and reused. Finally, over time, its storage density has increased by many orders of magnitude. As a result, much of the data stored in the cloud lives on magnetic disks, and magnetic tape is still used for archival backup.

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1876
1877
1940
1928
1904
AC Bias
Coated Tape
Telephone
Vacuum Tube
Phonograph
1977
1961
1951
1948
1878
1900
1930
1932
1942
1944
1947
Recording Telephone
Telegraphone Cylinder
Agafon
Dictawire
RCA
Wire-o-Matic
MX-300
Flight Recorder
MS-61
Armour Model 50
Minifon
Silvertone
Dailygraph
Textophon
Telegraphone Reel
1942
1935
1929
1900
1949
1948
1960
1958
1952
1955
1947
1946
1970
1967
1962
1961
Stahltone- Bandmaschine
Marconi-Stille
Magnetophon K4
Magnetophon K1
Blattnerphone
Telegraphone Tape
Nagra SN
2 in. Studio Master
Senda Message
Fi-Cord
BASF Tape Letter
70mm Soundtrack
Memocord
Sankey Rols
Perfotape
Cinerama Soundtrack
Soundscriber
Staggered Stereo
Dictatape
Acetate
Full-Coat Soundtrack
Magnetophon
Paper
1948
1969
1962
1954
1956
1958
1949
1901
1946
1992
1975
Telegraphone Disk
Recordon
Astromag
3M Sound Slide
GE Playtalk
Pye Record Maker
Sony MiniDisc
IBM 6:5
Telefunken 600
RCA
Timex
Emidicta
Mail-A-Voice
1950
1957
1958
1959
1976
1975
1972
1971
1970
1969
1968
1967
1965
1964
1963
1962
1961
Elcaset
Sound Slide
Alpha One
Steno Cassette
Cartridge- Corder
DEJ 614
Microcassette
Mini Cassette
DC International
Tapete
Sabamobil
EN3
Nippon Vity
Garrard Tape Magazine
Compact Cassette
Ind-X-Matic
RCA Sound Tape
Minifon Attache
EL3951
Dictet
Optaphon
1952
1953
1954
1958
1959
1988
1980s
1980
1971
1972
1970
1968
1967
1966
1965
1964
1963
1962
1961
1960
Fidelipac
Mood-Master
4-Track
Quad 8
Aristocart
Folding 8-Track
OMNI
EMS
Mini Twin
Mini-Pak
8-Track
3M Cantata
Code-a-Phone
Mail Call Letterpack
Pocket-Rockers
Bandai
HiPac
Channel Master
Clarke & Smith
Tapette
Playtape
Revere-Wollensak
Message Repeater
Reditune
Midgetape
Stenorette
Mellotron
EL 3779
Echomatic II
Cousino Audio Vendor
1967
1959
1958
1961
1955
Tutorette
Syncrofax
Ultravox
Stenomatic
Stenocord
Magnabelt
Comptometer
The Quest for Ease-of-Use
Cassettes and Cartridges
More to come...
Professional, Commercial and Consumer Applications
Open-Reel Tape
Coated plastic tape, first packaged in open reels, came to dominate magnetic audio recording in the 20th century. There were a wide variety of professional and consumer applications, everything from car audio to espionage. It was eventually adopted for data storage by the computer industry and for professional and consumer video.
Office and Consumer Applications
Magnetic Audio Disks
Magnetic audio disks never achieved widespread adoption but were moderately successful up to around 1970 for office dictation and consumer use. Disks made a comeback in 1992 with Sony's magneto-optical MiniDisc, which worked on a completely different principle from earlier disks.
Commercialization of Wartime Technology
The Brief Heyday of Wire Recording
After the war, wire recording enjoyed a short period of success. A string of companies like Webster-Chicago and Pierce,licensed Armour's patents and manufactured light-weight, inexpensive recorders. The quality was not good enough for use in commercial broadcasting or recording, but they were used for dictation, memos, police interrogations and, at home, to record radio programs and amateur music. Wire recording was quickly overtaken by tape recording, although it survived into the 1980s for niche applications like espionage and flight recorders, where compactness and robustness were critical.
1948
Importance of Materials
3M Tape and the Ampex 200
Based on the German technology acquired after the war, 3M developed acetate-backed magnetic tape, which it marketed as Scotch 111/112 in 1948. At the same time, Ampex had designed a professional tape recorder, the Ampex 200, which, combined with the 3M tape, surpassed the Magnetophon in quality and robustness. Bing Crosby Enterprises bought the initial 200s to replace the Magnetophons and became the first distributor of the Ampex recorder
1947
Spoils of War
Magnetophon Brought to U.S.
In 1944 Jack Mullin with the U.S. Army Signal Corps was assigned to look for interesting technology in the wake of the German retreat. He found two Magnetophon K4s and sent them back to the U.S. German patents were invalidated following Germany's surrender, making the technology freely available to U.S. companies as spoils of war.
Back in the U.S., Mullin demonstrated the Magnetophon to audio professionals, including the technical director of Bing Crosby's radio show, who was looking for a way to record shows for time-shifting. He was impressed and Mullin ended up recording Crosby's show for several years. Bing Crosby Enterprises became the distributor for the first Ampex tape recorders.
1946
Parallel Tracks
Coated Paper Tape
Based on their work on coated paper tape during the war, The Brush company released the "Mail-A-Voice," which recorded on paper discs coated with magnetite (a form of iron oxide). The discs were inexpensive and could be folded for mailing. Loading a disk was as easy as putting a record on a phonograph. These advantages were not enough to make it a success. Shortly after the Mail-A-Voice, Brush released the Soundmirror, a tape recorder that used coated paper tape. The Soundmirror showed the potential of tape recording, but it was not robust or high quality enough for professional or commercial use.
Unable to interest 3M at the time, Brush had its coated tape and discs manufactured by Shellmar, which up to then had made printed wrappers for bread.
1940
Invention and Reinvention
AC Bias
AC Bias, in which a high-frequency signal is added to the audio signal before applying it to the recording head, drastically improves the quality of magnetic recording. It was discovered five times independently: by the U.S. in 1921, Japan in 1938, the U.S. again in 1938, Germany in 1940 and U.S. again in 1941. In 1921 there was little activity in magnetic recording and the invention, although patented, received no notice. The Japan­ese team published a paper describing AC bias in 1938. It was rediscovered in the US. in 1938 and 1941. However, it was Weber's discovery in Germany in 1940 that finally fell on fertile ground and the addition of AC bias to the Magnetophon demonstrated convincingly that magnetic recording had arrived.
1942
Innovation in Wartime
Magnetophon K4
Germany continued to improve the Magnetophon. Coated acetate tape, an annular recording head, improved tape transport and the subsequent addition of AC bias, resulted in a machine with revolutionary recording quality. It was widely used by German radio during the war, allowing 24-hour broadcasting of music indistinguishable (at the time) from live performance.
1944
Innovation in Wartime
The Brush Development Company
Under the direction of Semi J. Begun, who had worked on the Textophon and the Stahltone-Bandmaschine in Germany before emigrating to the U.S., the Brush Development Co. worked on wire recorders for the U.S. military, including a steel tape recorder and an enclosed wire magazine for use in aircraft and other military applications that required robustness and ease-of-use. Begun also continued work for the U.S. Navy on coated paper tape, based on Pfleumer's invention.
1942
Innovation in Wartime
The Armour Research Foundation
The Armour Research Foundation was an independent, non-profit industrial research laboratory. Marvin Camras, a researcher at Armour, made important improvements to the wire recorder, developing a rugged and relatively light machine that gained the interest of the U.S. military. Armour assembled a group of basic patents that they licensed to a number of manufacturers, which played an important role in establishing the post-war wire recording industry.
Innovation in Wartime
World War II
The war had a strong effect on the development of magnetic recording. Research and development continued on both sides, with Germany focused on coated tape recording and the Allies on wire and steel tape. Recording technology was retargeted at war-related applications like espionage, secure communication and propaganda. It was used by the U.S. Armed Forces in reconnaissance aircraft, battlefield recording for radio broadcast and other field applications made possible by the durability of steel wire and the robustness of the recording process (compared to recording on gramophone discs).
1928
The First Tape Recorder
Magnetophon
While BASF developed magnetic tape, AEG focused on the recording machine. By 1935 AEG had produced the Magnetophon K1, the first modern tape recorder. Its recording quality wasn't up to that of existing wire recorders, but the cost of coated-plastic tape was a fraction of that of wire or steel tape. It was a hit at the 1935 Berlin radio exposition.
1928
The Importance of Materials
Coated Tape
Advances in material science and engineering play a crucial role in new technology more often than sometimes realized. Fritz Pfleumer invented coated magnetic tape, a foundational technology for magnetic audio, video and computer tape and discs, while working for a cigarette company. For that company, he had invented a way to simulate a gold-colored band around a cigarette filter by coating it with bronze powdered lacquer. He was familiar with wire recorders and, in a flash of insight, realized that a similar technique could create recording tape by coating paper with iron filings. He partnered with AEG and BASF (a branch of IG Farben). Paper tape proved too fragile and by 1934 BASF had settled on a cellulose acetate base coated with carbonyl iron powder. The final product cost a fraction of the cost of wire or steel tape.
1935
Inherent Limitations
Steel Tape
In spite of the Blattnerphone's limitations, the BBC found it useful and adopted an improved version, the Marconi-Stille recorder, when it came out. It was used by the BBC and others through the late 1940s.
The Stahltone-Bandmaschine was developed by the Lorenz Company as a "portable" steel tape recorder (though it was typically transported by truck). It remained on the market only until the late 1930s.
The Brush Development Company continued to work on steel tape through World War II, but steel tape was reaching its limits. It was unwieldy, expensive, difficult to edit and sometimes even dangerous. Magnetic recording was ready for something new.
1929
Electronic Amplification
Blattnerphone
The Blattnerphone, which used electronic amplification to record on steel tape, emerged out of an early effort to provide movie sound. That failed, but the BBC purchased several machines and began using them for time shifting radio programs. The reels were large, heavy and expensive. The tape was thin and fast moving, so breaks were potentially dangerous. Fixing breaks or editing the tape required welding the ends together.
1930
Electronic Amplification
Dailygraph / Textophon
Successful wire recorders based on electronic amplification were released in the late 1920s. The Dailygraph was used for dictation and telephone messages. Packing the wire reels in a cassette (a first for any type of recording) addressed ease-of-use. The Dailygraph was redesigned and rebranded as the Textophon when it was acquired by Lorenz and saw use through the 1930s.
1904
Looking at Ideas in a New Context
The Vacuum Tube and Electronic Amplification
Edison and others had observed that in a vacuum, electrons would flow from a heated negative electrode to a cooler positive electrode, but not in the opposite direction. In the context of Edison's work on the electric light bulb, this wasn't particularly interesting, but years later a British engineer working on wireless telegraphy, John Fleming, realized the phenomenon would solve the problem of rectification, the conversion of the alternating current flowing from a radio antenna to direct current. It was Fleming's knowledge of the "Edison Effect," that, when placed in the context of wireless telegraphy, enabled his "very happy thought."
In 1907, Lee de Forest introduced a third electrode into the vacuum tube, turning it into a "triode" that was, by 1913, developed into an amplifier, exactly what was needed for magnetic recording. In fact, de Forest used Telegraphones in some of his experiments.
The Wait for Enabling Technology
The Failure of the Telegraphone Company
There were very few telegraphones sold after 1915 and the company went into receivership in 1919. This was partly due to poor management, but there were also technical issues that blocked widespread adoption. Although not without advantages, low volume, low fidelity and difficulty of use made magnetic recording uncompetitive with the phonograph, which was well established for prerecorded music in the home and dictation in the office.
1901
The Ancestor of All Magnetic Disks
The Telegraphone: Steel Disk
Disks, familiar at the time for both music boxes and gramophones, eliminated much of the hassle of wire. The machine was also simpler and more reliable than the wire-based Telegraphone. However, the recording time was limited —about the same as for a wax dictation cylinder—and the disk itself was relatively expensive. After several years of effort, disks were abandoned by the Telegraphone company.
This is the first example of storing information on a removable magnetic disk. The computer disks used through the second half of the 20th century are indirect descendants, as are the fixed disks that still hold much of the data stored in the cloud.
1900
Alternative Form-Factors
The Telegraphone: Steel Tape
Unlike wire, a narrow ribbon of steel tape resisted twisting and was less likely to break or tangle. The tape version of the telegraphone was demonstrated at the Paris Exhibition of 1900, but was not developed further by Poulsen. However, steel tape went on to play a significant role in audio recording in the 1930s. In the 1950s, the first tape for the UNIVAC I computer was also metal.
1877
Alternative Form-Factors
The Telegraphone: Wire
Wire on open spools allowed much longer recording times than cylinders and was finally adopted by the Telegraphone Co. Wire on spools also had limitations. Loading the wire was finicky and it was prone to tangling and breakage. It took a relatively long time to rewind and accessing information in the middle meant running through everything before it. The wire could also twist along its length, which degraded the sound quality.
1877
Sidetracked by a Prior Success
The Telegraphone: Cylinder
Prior technology often provides the inspiration for an invention, but it can sometimes carry over in unhelpful ways. Showing the influence of Edison's phonograph, early versions of the telegraphone recorded sound on a steel wire held in a groove wrapped around a brass cylinder. The wire performed the same function as the groove in a phonograph cylinder. But like Edison's cylinders, this limited the duration of the recording. It was also more expensive than the phonograph's wax cylinder.
Moving Beyond the Initial Insight
Choosing a Form-Factor
Poulsen and his associates experimented with a variety of ways to package magnetic storage, including cylinders, wire, tape and disc—all of which played major roles in magnetic recording through the 20th century.
1900
Framing the Problem
The Telegraphone: First Magnetic Storage of Information
In 1898, Valdemar Poulsen, unaware of Oberlin Smith's work, built the first functional wire recorder. Poulsen worked for the Danish telephone company and used an off-the-shelf telephone microphone and earpiece in his new device.
Coming from the telephone business, Poulsen and his associates framed the problem of storing audio in terms of the phone system. They saw the inability to record messages as a component missing from that system and, based on that mental model, focused their energy on building and marketing an answering machine. Event­ually, the difficulty of integrating with the phone systems of different countries turned them towards dictation.
1878
The Remixing of Ideas
The Recording Telephone: Sound As a Magnetic Analog
As a solution, Oberlin Smith proposed passing the signal from a phone transmitter through an electromagnet, which would then magnetize a moving steel wire. Later, pulling the magnetized wire through a coil would induce an electrical signal that could be converted back to sound by a telephone receiver.
His published descriptions would have required further experimentation and revision to achieve a working prototype. Unfortunately, he was busy running a successful manufacturing business; although he published his idea, he never patented it or built a working example.
1877
Precursors
The Phonograph: Sound As a Geometric Analog
While working on inventions related to the telephone, Thomas Edison developed a way to store sound for later reproduction. Edison's phonograph converted sound mechanically into an undulating groove embossed in tinfoil (later wax). The varying depth of the groove was a geometric analog of sound waves in the air.
Oberlin Smith, a skilled and successful mechanical engineer, visited Edison's laboratory soon after the invention of the phonograph. He was fascinated, but found the recordings "scratchy," which he considered inherent to the mechanical nature of the device. Unlike the electromagnet and diaphragm of a telephone receiver, reproducing sound in the phonograph required continual physical contact between the needle and the moving groove.
1876
Precursors
The Telephone: Sound As an Electrical Analog
Inventions rarely come out of the blue; they build concretely or conceptually on prior technology and science. The telephone introduced the concept of an electrical analog of sound. As Alexander Graham Bell put it, the telephone transmitted sound as "electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air."
More concretely, the telephone supplied a microphone that converted sound into an electrical signal and a receiver that turned it back into sound using an electromagnet to vibrate a diaphragm. But the signal was transient; the telephone in itself provided no way to store it.
TECHNOLOGY
RECORDING WIRE
DISK
TAPE
CARTRIDGE
CASSETTE
BELT / CARD

Recording Wire

A wire recorder records sound by magnetizing a thin steel or stainless steel wire as it moves past an electromagnet. Although invented in 1898, adoption was limited until after World War II, when wire recording had a short heyday before being overtaken by magnetic tape.

Wire recorders were used in business for dictation and as answering machines and in the home to record radio shows and family performances. Ruggedized versions were heavily used by the military in World War II. Recording wire, only slightly larger than the diameter of a human hair, held a relatively large amount of audio in a small volume, which made it useful for clandestine recording by intelligence agencies and the police. Wire was also used in flight recording, where the heat tolerance of steel gave it advantages over tape. A wire recorder was used in the 1958 SCORE satellite to broadcast President Eisenhower's voice back to earth, the first spoken words ever received from orbit: "Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space."

Spool

Recording wire was typically stored on an open metal or plastic spool, which could hold an hour or more of audio.

  • Telegraphone

    1900–c. 1924
    First wire recorder

    Telegraphone

    1900–c. 1924
    First wire recorder

    Telegraphone

    1900–c. 1924
    First wire recorder

    Telegraphone

    1900–c. 1924
    First wire recorder

    Telegraphone

    1900–c. 1924
    First wire recorder
  • Armour Model 50

    1942–c. 1945
    Used by the U.S. military in World War II

    Armour Model 50

    1942–c. 1945
    Used by the U.S. military in World War II

    Armour Model 50

    1942–c. 1945
    Used by the U.S. military in World War II

    Armour Model 50

    1942–c. 1945
    Used by the U.S. military in World War II

    Armour Model 50

    1942–c. 1945
    Used by the U.S. military in World War II
  • Peirce Model 55 B

    1942–1954
    For dictation machine based on the Armour Model 50

    Peirce Model 55 B

    1942–1954
    For dictation machine based on the Armour Model 50

    Peirce Model 55 B

    1942–1954
    For dictation machine based on the Armour Model 50

    Peirce Model 55 B

    1942–1954
    For dictation machine based on the Armour Model 50

    Peirce Model 55 B

    1942–1954
    For dictation machine based on the Armour Model 50
  • Silvertone

    1947–mid-1950s
    The Armour standard spool used by many manufacturers

    Silvertone

    1947–mid-1950s
    The Armour standard spool used by many manufacturers

    Silvertone

    1947–mid-1950s
    The Armour standard spool used by many manufacturers

    Silvertone

    1947–mid-1950s
    The Armour standard spool used by many manufacturers

    Silvertone

    1947–mid-1950s
    The Armour standard spool used by many manufacturers
  • PA WiRecorder

    late 1940s
    Meant to be hooked up to a PA system

    PA WiRecorder

    late 1940s
    Meant to be hooked up to a PA system

    PA WiRecorder

    late 1940s
    Meant to be hooked up to a PA system

    PA WiRecorder

    late 1940s
    Meant to be hooked up to a PA system

    PA WiRecorder

    late 1940s
    Meant to be hooked up to a PA system
  • Minifon P55

    1951–c. 1964
    Minifon spy recorder

    Minifon P55

    1951–c. 1964
    Minifon spy recorder

    Minifon P55

    1951–c. 1964
    Minifon spy recorder

    Minifon P55

    1951–c. 1964
    Minifon spy recorder

    Minifon P55

    1951–c. 1964
    Minifon spy recorder
  • MS-61 / 61B

    1961–mid-1980s
    Used in cockpit voice recorder for the Soviet MIG-25 jet

    MS-61 / 61B

    1961–mid-1980s
    Used in cockpit voice recorder for the Soviet MIG-25 jet

    MS-61 / 61B

    1961–mid-1980s
    Used in cockpit voice recorder for the Soviet MIG-25 jet

    MS-61 / 61B

    1961–mid-1980s
    Used in cockpit voice recorder for the Soviet MIG-25 jet

    MS-61 / 61B

    1961–mid-1980s
    Used in cockpit voice recorder for the Soviet MIG-25 jet
  • Cockpit Voice Recorder

    1960s - 1970s
    For unknown Soviet cockpit voice recorder

    Cockpit Voice Recorder

    1960s - 1970s
    For unknown Soviet cockpit voice recorder

    Cockpit Voice Recorder

    1960s - 1970s
    For unknown Soviet cockpit voice recorder

    Cockpit Voice Recorder

    1960s - 1970s
    For unknown Soviet cockpit voice recorder

    Cockpit Voice Recorder

    1960s - 1970s
    For unknown Soviet cockpit voice recorder

Cassette

Loading wire into a recorder was a finicky process; the wire was difficult to manipulate and easily broken or tangled. Once tangled the only practical solution was to cut out the tangle and tie the ends together with a knot. As a result, wire was the first audio medium to be packaged as a cassette.

  • Textophon

    1933–1939
    First audio cassette of any kind

    Textophon

    1933–1939
    First audio cassette of any kind

    Textophon

    1933–1939
    First audio cassette of any kind

    Textophon

    1933–1939
    First audio cassette of any kind

    Textophon

    1933–1939
    First audio cassette of any kind
  • MX-330 / ANQ-1

    c. 1944–mid-1950s
    Ruggedized cassette for U.S. military in WW II

    MX-330 / ANQ-1

    c. 1944–mid-1950s
    Ruggedized cassette for U.S. military in WW II

    MX-330 / ANQ-1

    c. 1944–mid-1950s
    Ruggedized cassette for U.S. military in WW II

    MX-330 / ANQ-1

    c. 1944–mid-1950s
    Ruggedized cassette for U.S. military in WW II

    MX-330 / ANQ-1

    c. 1944–mid-1950s
    Ruggedized cassette for U.S. military in WW II
  • Pierce Wire-O-Matic

    late 1940s–mid-1950s
    In addition to dictation, was used for offline data storage in the early SEAC computer

    Pierce Wire-O-Matic

    late 1940s–mid-1950s
    In addition to dictation, was used for offline data storage in the early SEAC computer

    Pierce Wire-O-Matic

    late 1940s–mid-1950s
    In addition to dictation, was used for offline data storage in the early SEAC computer

    Pierce Wire-O-Matic

    late 1940s–mid-1950s
    In addition to dictation, was used for offline data storage in the early SEAC computer

    Pierce Wire-O-Matic

    late 1940s–mid-1950s
    In addition to dictation, was used for offline data storage in the early SEAC computer
  • RCA Model M1

    1948–1950's
    2 sets of spools running in opposite directions eliminates rewinding

    RCA Model M1

    1948–1950's
    2 sets of spools running in opposite directions eliminates rewinding

    RCA Model M1

    1948–1950's
    2 sets of spools running in opposite directions eliminates rewinding

    RCA Model M1

    1948–1950's
    2 sets of spools running in opposite directions eliminates rewinding

    RCA Model M1

    1948–1950's
    2 sets of spools running in opposite directions eliminates rewinding
  • Dictawire

    1948–c.1950
    Wire magazine for a Dictaphone dictation machine

    Dictawire

    1948–c.1950
    Wire magazine for a Dictaphone dictation machine

    Dictawire

    1948–c.1950
    Wire magazine for a Dictaphone dictation machine

    Dictawire

    1948–c.1950
    Wire magazine for a Dictaphone dictation machine

    Dictawire

    1948–c.1950
    Wire magazine for a Dictaphone dictation machine
  • Agafon

    c. 1951–1952
    Cassette containing 2 standard reels

    Agafon

    c. 1951–1952
    Cassette containing 2 standard reels

    Agafon

    c. 1951–1952
    Cassette containing 2 standard reels

    Agafon

    c. 1951–1952
    Cassette containing 2 standard reels

    Agafon

    c. 1951–1952
    Cassette containing 2 standard reels
  • Jaeger Minivox MV60

    1961–1962
    For a portable recorder used mainly by journalists.

    Jaeger Minivox MV60

    1961–1962
    For a portable recorder used mainly by journalists.

    Jaeger Minivox MV60

    1961–1962
    For a portable recorder used mainly by journalists.

    Jaeger Minivox MV60

    1961–1962
    For a portable recorder used mainly by journalists.

    Jaeger Minivox MV60

    1961–1962
    For a portable recorder used mainly by journalists.
  • Moshka

    1960s–1970s
    Used in KGB spy recorder during cold war

    Moshka

    1960s–1970s
    Used in KGB spy recorder during cold war

    Moshka

    1960s–1970s
    Used in KGB spy recorder during cold war

    Moshka

    1960s–1970s
    Used in KGB spy recorder during cold war

    Moshka

    1960s–1970s
    Used in KGB spy recorder during cold war

Audio Tape

In his initial patents for wire recording, Poulsen also included metal tape and paper tape coated with iron filings, but he never produced a device that used either. In 1930, the BBC put into service a device called the Blattnerphone that recorded onto steel tape (moving at 5 ft per second—somewhat dangerous if the tape broke). But magnetic tape in the sense that we now think of it wasn't actually produced until 1928 in Germany. During the 1930s, companies like AEG and BASF worked on it, largely in secret. After the war, Frank Mullin, a major in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, discovered the technology in Germany and brought it back to the U.S. He demonstrated a tape recorder to Bing Crosby, among others. Crosby, who was looking for a way to prerecord his radio show, quickly adopted and backed the technology. The first consumer tape recorder was introduced in 1946 by Brush Development Corp. using paper-backed tape. Ampex introduced the Model 200 professional recorder in 1948 using ¼ in. acetate tape developed by 3M.

Magnetic tape fundamentally altered the process of recording music. Before tape, all recording was essentially live. Performances were recorded directly onto cylinder and disc records, which provided limited opportunity for editing. Tape introduced the possibility of post-production. It could be edited like movie film by cutting and splicing. In widths up to 2 inches, tape allowed the recording of as many as 24 independent tracks, which allowed individual voices and instruments to be recorded separately and mixed at a later time. Tracks could be run through an equalizer to change the timbre of voices and instruments. In the 1960s, albums like The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds showed that the studio engineer could be a participant in the performance ultimately delivered on vinyl.

Open Reel

As with wire recording, the first tape recorders used open reels. Prerecorded reels were introduced as early as 1949, but saw their greatest use in the 1960s before the advent of cassettes and cartridges. In those days, a reel-to-reel tape deck in the den signified a connoisseur who appreciated and could afford high-end audio. For consumers, open reel tape was soon replaced by cartridges and cassettes, but it remained the primary media for professional recording into the late 1980s.

  • Cellulose Acetate

    1935–present
    First used in German Magnetophon

    Cellulose Acetate

    1935–present
    First used in German Magnetophon

    Cellulose Acetate

    1935–present
    First used in German Magnetophon

    Cellulose Acetate

    1935–present
    First used in German Magnetophon

    Cellulose Acetate

    1935–present
    First used in German Magnetophon
  • Paper

    1946–c. 1954
    For the first commercial tape recorder

    Paper

    1946–c. 1954
    For the first commercial tape recorder

    Paper

    1946–c. 1954
    For the first commercial tape recorder

    Paper

    1946–c. 1954
    For the first commercial tape recorder

    Paper

    1946–c. 1954
    For the first commercial tape recorder
  • Dictaphone Dictatape

    1949–1980s
    Tapes like this one were used for logging communications in industrial or commercial settings

    Dictaphone Dictatape

    1949–1980s
    Tapes like this one were used for logging communications in industrial or commercial settings

    Dictaphone Dictatape

    1949–1980s
    Tapes like this one were used for logging communications in industrial or commercial settings

    Dictaphone Dictatape

    1949–1980s
    Tapes like this one were used for logging communications in industrial or commercial settings

    Dictaphone Dictatape

    1949–1980s
    Tapes like this one were used for logging communications in industrial or commercial settings
  • Soundscriber

    1950's–c. 1982
    Used transverse recording to hold 24 hours of audio

    Soundscriber

    1950's–c. 1982
    Used transverse recording to hold 24 hours of audio

    Soundscriber

    1950's–c. 1982
    Used transverse recording to hold 24 hours of audio

    Soundscriber

    1950's–c. 1982
    Used transverse recording to hold 24 hours of audio

    Soundscriber

    1950's–c. 1982
    Used transverse recording to hold 24 hours of audio
  • Tolnai LP16

    c, 1955 - late 1960s
    35 mm, 16 track logging tape, 40 hour capacity

    Tolnai LP16

    c, 1955 - late 1960s
    35 mm, 16 track logging tape, 40 hour capacity

    Tolnai LP16

    c, 1955 - late 1960s
    35 mm, 16 track logging tape, 40 hour capacity

    Tolnai LP16

    c, 1955 - late 1960s
    35 mm, 16 track logging tape, 40 hour capacity

    Tolnai LP16

    c, 1955 - late 1960s
    35 mm, 16 track logging tape, 40 hour capacity
  • Perfotape

    late 1950s–1970s
    Perforated to sync with 16mm movie film

    Perfotape

    late 1950s–1970s
    Perforated to sync with 16mm movie film

    Perfotape

    late 1950s–1970s
    Perforated to sync with 16mm movie film

    Perfotape

    late 1950s–1970s
    Perforated to sync with 16mm movie film

    Perfotape

    late 1950s–1970s
    Perforated to sync with 16mm movie film
  • Stuzzi Memocord 304B

    early 1960's
    4-track tape for pocket dictation recorder

    Stuzzi Memocord 304B

    early 1960's
    4-track tape for pocket dictation recorder

    Stuzzi Memocord 304B

    early 1960's
    4-track tape for pocket dictation recorder

    Stuzzi Memocord 304B

    early 1960's
    4-track tape for pocket dictation recorder

    Stuzzi Memocord 304B

    early 1960's
    4-track tape for pocket dictation recorder
  • Fi-Cord 101

    early 1960s
    Portable recorder used by CIA and others

    Fi-Cord 101

    early 1960s
    Portable recorder used by CIA and others

    Fi-Cord 101

    early 1960s
    Portable recorder used by CIA and others

    Fi-Cord 101

    early 1960s
    Portable recorder used by CIA and others

    Fi-Cord 101

    early 1960s
    Portable recorder used by CIA and others
  • Edi M-75B

    1962–1967
    Spy recorder commisioned by the CIA (declassified in 1965)

    Edi M-75B

    1962–1967
    Spy recorder commisioned by the CIA (declassified in 1965)

    Edi M-75B

    1962–1967
    Spy recorder commisioned by the CIA (declassified in 1965)

    Edi M-75B

    1962–1967
    Spy recorder commisioned by the CIA (declassified in 1965)

    Edi M-75B

    1962–1967
    Spy recorder commisioned by the CIA (declassified in 1965)
  • BASF Tape Letter

    1960s–early 1970s
    Mailable

    BASF Tape Letter

    1960s–early 1970s
    Mailable

    BASF Tape Letter

    1960s–early 1970s
    Mailable

    BASF Tape Letter

    1960s–early 1970s
    Mailable

    BASF Tape Letter

    1960s–early 1970s
    Mailable
  • Senda Message

    mid-1960s–c. 1970
    Mailable

    Senda Message

    mid-1960s–c. 1970
    Mailable

    Senda Message

    mid-1960s–c. 1970
    Mailable

    Senda Message

    mid-1960s–c. 1970
    Mailable

    Senda Message

    mid-1960s–c. 1970
    Mailable
  • Reeves Soundcraft Tapespondence

    late 1960s
    Mailable

    Reeves Soundcraft Tapespondence

    late 1960s
    Mailable

    Reeves Soundcraft Tapespondence

    late 1960s
    Mailable

    Reeves Soundcraft Tapespondence

    late 1960s
    Mailable

    Reeves Soundcraft Tapespondence

    late 1960s
    Mailable
  • Ampex Studio Master

    1967–2000's
    24 tracks, used in studios as a recording master

    Ampex Studio Master

    1967–2000's
    24 tracks, used in studios as a recording master

    Ampex Studio Master

    1967–2000's
    24 tracks, used in studios as a recording master

    Ampex Studio Master

    1967–2000's
    24 tracks, used in studios as a recording master

    Ampex Studio Master

    1967–2000's
    24 tracks, used in studios as a recording master
  • Nagra SN

    1970s–2000s
    Used for espionage by both sides in the cold war

    Nagra SN

    1970s–2000s
    Used for espionage by both sides in the cold war

    Nagra SN

    1970s–2000s
    Used for espionage by both sides in the cold war

    Nagra SN

    1970s–2000s
    Used for espionage by both sides in the cold war

    Nagra SN

    1970s–2000s
    Used for espionage by both sides in the cold war
  • 16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to keep movie sound recorded on a separate recorder in sync with the camera

    16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to keep movie sound recorded on a separate recorder in sync with the camera

    16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to keep movie sound recorded on a separate recorder in sync with the camera

    16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to keep movie sound recorded on a separate recorder in sync with the camera

    16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to keep movie sound recorded on a separate recorder in sync with the camera
  • Digital Master


    ½ in., 48 track live recording of Raffi in performance

    Digital Master


    ½ in., 48 track live recording of Raffi in performance

    Digital Master


    ½ in., 48 track live recording of Raffi in performance

    Digital Master


    ½ in., 48 track live recording of Raffi in performance

    Digital Master


    ½ in., 48 track live recording of Raffi in performance

Cartridge-Loading Reel

Like recording wire, tape on open reels could break or tangle. Numerous ways of packaging tape were invented in response. A single reel could be stored in a shell, to be threaded manually or automatically, with the machine grabbing the end of the tape when it was inserted, attaching it to an internal takeup reel, then rewinding it into the shell when it reached the end.

  • Grundig Stenorette

    1954–mid-1970's
    Answering machine

    Grundig Stenorette

    1954–mid-1970's
    Answering machine

    Grundig Stenorette

    1954–mid-1970's
    Answering machine

    Grundig Stenorette

    1954–mid-1970's
    Answering machine

    Grundig Stenorette

    1954–mid-1970's
    Answering machine
  • Revere-Wollensak

    1963–c. 1967
    Stackable for automatic tape player

    Revere-Wollensak

    1963–c. 1967
    Stackable for automatic tape player

    Revere-Wollensak

    1963–c. 1967
    Stackable for automatic tape player

    Revere-Wollensak

    1963–c. 1967
    Stackable for automatic tape player

    Revere-Wollensak

    1963–c. 1967
    Stackable for automatic tape player
  • Code-a-Phone

    1966–mid 1970's
    Answering machine

    Code-a-Phone

    1966–mid 1970's
    Answering machine

    Code-a-Phone

    1966–mid 1970's
    Answering machine

    Code-a-Phone

    1966–mid 1970's
    Answering machine

    Code-a-Phone

    1966–mid 1970's
    Answering machine
  • Norelco EL 3779

    1963–c. 1970
    Hand-threaded

    Norelco EL 3779

    1963–c. 1970
    Hand-threaded

    Norelco EL 3779

    1963–c. 1970
    Hand-threaded

    Norelco EL 3779

    1963–c. 1970
    Hand-threaded

    Norelco EL 3779

    1963–c. 1970
    Hand-threaded
  • Grundig Execumatic

    1960s
    Dictation

    Grundig Execumatic

    1960s
    Dictation

    Grundig Execumatic

    1960s
    Dictation

    Grundig Execumatic

    1960s
    Dictation

    Grundig Execumatic

    1960s
    Dictation

Continuous Cartridge

The need to rewind open-reel tape made it impractical for repetitive applications like point-of-sale, background music or radio broadcasting. The difficulty of threading tape also made open reels less than ideal for portable and in-car use. These problems were first addressed in continuous tape cartridges, which contain an endless loop of magnetic tape wound around a single reel. Tape is pulled from the inside of the reel (making lubrication a key technical challenge) and is wound back onto the outside of the reel.

Bernard Cousino invented the first such cartridge, the Audio Vender, a special reel designed to play on a standard tape recorder for point-of-sale audio. Soon after, George Eash developed the Fidelipac cartridge, which went on to become the standard format for radio broadcasting. Earl "Madman" Muntz, a southern-California auto dealer famous for the persona he adopted in his TV advertisements, developed a 4-track cartridge based on the Fidelipac for use in the cars he sold. Bill Lear, developer of the Learjet, thought Muntz's cartridge would be as useful for jets as it was for cars. In the process of adapting it, he made a number of changes that culminated in the 8-track cartridge. Although not particularly high-quality, "8-tracks" went on to become a cultural icon. An 8-track tape player was the centerpiece of many a shag-carpeted van in the late 60s and early 70s.

  • Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
  • Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    Played repeating messages on standard tape recorder

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    Played repeating messages on standard tape recorder

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    Played repeating messages on standard tape recorder

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    Played repeating messages on standard tape recorder

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    Played repeating messages on standard tape recorder
  • Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    A smaller Cousino cartridge

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    A smaller Cousino cartridge

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    A smaller Cousino cartridge

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    A smaller Cousino cartridge

    Cousino Audio Vendor

    1952–c. 1966
    A smaller Cousino cartridge
  • Mohawk Message Repeater

    1953–1954
    Repeating messages, including sleep learning

    Mohawk Message Repeater

    1953–1954
    Repeating messages, including sleep learning

    Mohawk Message Repeater

    1953–1954
    Repeating messages, including sleep learning

    Mohawk Message Repeater

    1953–1954
    Repeating messages, including sleep learning

    Mohawk Message Repeater

    1953–1954
    Repeating messages, including sleep learning
  • Cousino Echo-Matic II

    c. 1958–c. 1969
    Repeating messages, e.g. point-of-sale

    Cousino Echo-Matic II

    c. 1958–c. 1969
    Repeating messages, e.g. point-of-sale

    Cousino Echo-Matic II

    c. 1958–c. 1969
    Repeating messages, e.g. point-of-sale

    Cousino Echo-Matic II

    c. 1958–c. 1969
    Repeating messages, e.g. point-of-sale

    Cousino Echo-Matic II

    c. 1958–c. 1969
    Repeating messages, e.g. point-of-sale
  • Fidelipac

    1959–1990's
    Jingles, commercials, etc. for radio broadcasting

    Fidelipac

    1959–1990's
    Jingles, commercials, etc. for radio broadcasting

    Fidelipac

    1959–1990's
    Jingles, commercials, etc. for radio broadcasting

    Fidelipac

    1959–1990's
    Jingles, commercials, etc. for radio broadcasting

    Fidelipac

    1959–1990's
    Jingles, commercials, etc. for radio broadcasting
  • Mood Master

    c. 1959–1980's (?)
    C-size Fidelipac for Mood-Master background music

    Mood Master

    c. 1959–1980's (?)
    C-size Fidelipac for Mood-Master background music

    Mood Master

    c. 1959–1980's (?)
    C-size Fidelipac for Mood-Master background music

    Mood Master

    c. 1959–1980's (?)
    C-size Fidelipac for Mood-Master background music

    Mood Master

    c. 1959–1980's (?)
    C-size Fidelipac for Mood-Master background music
  • EMS Background Music

    late 1960s–1990s
    Fidelipac C for EMS background music system

    EMS Background Music

    late 1960s–1990s
    Fidelipac C for EMS background music system

    EMS Background Music

    late 1960s–1990s
    Fidelipac C for EMS background music system

    EMS Background Music

    late 1960s–1990s
    Fidelipac C for EMS background music system

    EMS Background Music

    late 1960s–1990s
    Fidelipac C for EMS background music system
  • Aristocart

    early 1970s–mid-1990s
    Better for stereo than Fidelipac

    Aristocart

    early 1970s–mid-1990s
    Better for stereo than Fidelipac

    Aristocart

    early 1970s–mid-1990s
    Better for stereo than Fidelipac

    Aristocart

    early 1970s–mid-1990s
    Better for stereo than Fidelipac

    Aristocart

    early 1970s–mid-1990s
    Better for stereo than Fidelipac
  • Scotchcart

    mid-1980s–mid-1990s
    Improved version of Fidelipac

    Scotchcart

    mid-1980s–mid-1990s
    Improved version of Fidelipac

    Scotchcart

    mid-1980s–mid-1990s
    Improved version of Fidelipac

    Scotchcart

    mid-1980s–mid-1990s
    Improved version of Fidelipac

    Scotchcart

    mid-1980s–mid-1990s
    Improved version of Fidelipac
  • Ansafone

    1960–mid-1960s
    For early answering machine

    Ansafone

    1960–mid-1960s
    For early answering machine

    Ansafone

    1960–mid-1960s
    For early answering machine

    Ansafone

    1960–mid-1960s
    For early answering machine

    Ansafone

    1960–mid-1960s
    For early answering machine
  • Orrtronic Tapette

    c. 1962
    2-track cartridge based on Echo-Matic II

    Orrtronic Tapette

    c. 1962
    2-track cartridge based on Echo-Matic II

    Orrtronic Tapette

    c. 1962
    2-track cartridge based on Echo-Matic II

    Orrtronic Tapette

    c. 1962
    2-track cartridge based on Echo-Matic II

    Orrtronic Tapette

    c. 1962
    2-track cartridge based on Echo-Matic II
  • Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-Track

    1962–1970
    Adaptation of Fidelipac for car tape player

    Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-Track

    1962–1970
    Adaptation of Fidelipac for car tape player

    Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-Track

    1962–1970
    Adaptation of Fidelipac for car tape player

    Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-Track

    1962–1970
    Adaptation of Fidelipac for car tape player

    Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-Track

    1962–1970
    Adaptation of Fidelipac for car tape player
  • Reditune

    1957–min-1960s
    For Reditune background music system

    Reditune

    1957–min-1960s
    For Reditune background music system

    Reditune

    1957–min-1960s
    For Reditune background music system

    Reditune

    1957–min-1960s
    For Reditune background music system

    Reditune

    1957–min-1960s
    For Reditune background music system
  • Muntz Twin-Pak

    1963–1970
    4-track stereo cartridge holding two albums of music

    Muntz Twin-Pak

    1963–1970
    4-track stereo cartridge holding two albums of music

    Muntz Twin-Pak

    1963–1970
    4-track stereo cartridge holding two albums of music

    Muntz Twin-Pak

    1963–1970
    4-track stereo cartridge holding two albums of music

    Muntz Twin-Pak

    1963–1970
    4-track stereo cartridge holding two albums of music
  • 8-Track

    1964–1988
    Developed by Bill Lear of Learjet

    8-Track

    1964–1988
    Developed by Bill Lear of Learjet

    8-Track

    1964–1988
    Developed by Bill Lear of Learjet

    8-Track

    1964–1988
    Developed by Bill Lear of Learjet

    8-Track

    1964–1988
    Developed by Bill Lear of Learjet
  • Synchro E

    1960s
    Playable on standard tape recorder

    Synchro E

    1960s
    Playable on standard tape recorder

    Synchro E

    1960s
    Playable on standard tape recorder

    Synchro E

    1960s
    Playable on standard tape recorder

    Synchro E

    1960s
    Playable on standard tape recorder
  • Connecticut Continuous Cartridge

    mid–1950s (?)
    Repeating messages for point-of-sale or telecom

    Connecticut Continuous Cartridge

    mid–1950s (?)
    Repeating messages for point-of-sale or telecom

    Connecticut Continuous Cartridge

    mid–1950s (?)
    Repeating messages for point-of-sale or telecom

    Connecticut Continuous Cartridge

    mid–1950s (?)
    Repeating messages for point-of-sale or telecom

    Connecticut Continuous Cartridge

    mid–1950s (?)
    Repeating messages for point-of-sale or telecom
  • PlayTape

    1966–early 1970's
    First cartridge meant for portable players

    PlayTape

    1966–early 1970's
    First cartridge meant for portable players

    PlayTape

    1966–early 1970's
    First cartridge meant for portable players

    PlayTape

    1966–early 1970's
    First cartridge meant for portable players

    PlayTape

    1966–early 1970's
    First cartridge meant for portable players
  • Muntz Mini-Pak

    1966–1968
    4-track tape with 2 songs

    Muntz Mini-Pak

    1966–1968
    4-track tape with 2 songs

    Muntz Mini-Pak

    1966–1968
    4-track tape with 2 songs

    Muntz Mini-Pak

    1966–1968
    4-track tape with 2 songs

    Muntz Mini-Pak

    1966–1968
    4-track tape with 2 songs
  • Muntz Mini Twin

    1967–1968
    4-track tape with 4 songs

    Muntz Mini Twin

    1967–1968
    4-track tape with 4 songs

    Muntz Mini Twin

    1967–1968
    4-track tape with 4 songs

    Muntz Mini Twin

    1967–1968
    4-track tape with 4 songs

    Muntz Mini Twin

    1967–1968
    4-track tape with 4 songs
  • Mail Call Letterpack

    1967–1970
    Based on PlayTape

    Mail Call Letterpack

    1967–1970
    Based on PlayTape

    Mail Call Letterpack

    1967–1970
    Based on PlayTape

    Mail Call Letterpack

    1967–1970
    Based on PlayTape

    Mail Call Letterpack

    1967–1970
    Based on PlayTape
  • Audiscan

    c. 1967–c. 1979
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape sound track

    Audiscan

    c. 1967–c. 1979
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape sound track

    Audiscan

    c. 1967–c. 1979
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape sound track

    Audiscan

    c. 1967–c. 1979
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape sound track

    Audiscan

    c. 1967–c. 1979
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape sound track
  • La Belle Courier

    c. 1968—1970s
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape

    La Belle Courier

    c. 1968—1970s
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape

    La Belle Courier

    c. 1968—1970s
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape

    La Belle Courier

    c. 1968—1970s
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape

    La Belle Courier

    c. 1968—1970s
    Filmstrip with synchronized magnetic tape
  • Endless Loop Cassette

    c. 1969–late 1990's
    Cassette modified to run continuous tape loop

    Endless Loop Cassette

    c. 1969–late 1990's
    Cassette modified to run continuous tape loop

    Endless Loop Cassette

    c. 1969–late 1990's
    Cassette modified to run continuous tape loop

    Endless Loop Cassette

    c. 1969–late 1990's
    Cassette modified to run continuous tape loop

    Endless Loop Cassette

    c. 1969–late 1990's
    Cassette modified to run continuous tape loop
  • A-ZET C

    late 1960s&ndas;1970s
    Used in several Zettler answering machines

    A-ZET C

    late 1960s&ndas;1970s
    Used in several Zettler answering machines

    A-ZET C

    late 1960s&ndas;1970s
    Used in several Zettler answering machines

    A-ZET C

    late 1960s&ndas;1970s
    Used in several Zettler answering machines

    A-ZET C

    late 1960s&ndas;1970s
    Used in several Zettler answering machines
  • Dictaphone Ansafone

    late 1960s–c. 1970

    Dictaphone Ansafone

    late 1960s–c. 1970

    Dictaphone Ansafone

    late 1960s–c. 1970

    Dictaphone Ansafone

    late 1960s–c. 1970

    Dictaphone Ansafone

    late 1960s–c. 1970
  • Telefunken Endless Bandkassette

    c. 1960s–1970s
    Endless tape for reel-to-reel recorder or anse

    Telefunken Endless Bandkassette

    c. 1960s–1970s
    Endless tape for reel-to-reel recorder or anse

    Telefunken Endless Bandkassette

    c. 1960s–1970s
    Endless tape for reel-to-reel recorder or anse

    Telefunken Endless Bandkassette

    c. 1960s–1970s
    Endless tape for reel-to-reel recorder or anse

    Telefunken Endless Bandkassette

    c. 1960s–1970s
    Endless tape for reel-to-reel recorder or anse
  • Crown Telephone Valet

    early 1970s
    For telephone answering machine

    Crown Telephone Valet

    early 1970s
    For telephone answering machine

    Crown Telephone Valet

    early 1970s
    For telephone answering machine

    Crown Telephone Valet

    early 1970s
    For telephone answering machine

    Crown Telephone Valet

    early 1970s
    For telephone answering machine
  • Akai AE-1

    1970s
    Endless tape for a reel-to-reel tape recorder

    Akai AE-1

    1970s
    Endless tape for a reel-to-reel tape recorder

    Akai AE-1

    1970s
    Endless tape for a reel-to-reel tape recorder

    Akai AE-1

    1970s
    Endless tape for a reel-to-reel tape recorder

    Akai AE-1

    1970s
    Endless tape for a reel-to-reel tape recorder
  • Lear Mini-8

    1970–early 1970s
    Folding 8-track designed to compete with compact cassette

    Lear Mini-8

    1970–early 1970s
    Folding 8-track designed to compete with compact cassette

    Lear Mini-8

    1970–early 1970s
    Folding 8-track designed to compete with compact cassette

    Lear Mini-8

    1970–early 1970s
    Folding 8-track designed to compete with compact cassette

    Lear Mini-8

    1970–early 1970s
    Folding 8-track designed to compete with compact cassette
  • Quad 8

    1970–1978
    Ford demo tape for 4-track quadraphonic

    Quad 8

    1970–1978
    Ford demo tape for 4-track quadraphonic

    Quad 8

    1970–1978
    Ford demo tape for 4-track quadraphonic

    Quad 8

    1970–1978
    Ford demo tape for 4-track quadraphonic

    Quad 8

    1970–1978
    Ford demo tape for 4-track quadraphonic
  • HiPac

    1971–1973
    4-track stereo cartridge based on PlayTape

    HiPac

    1971–1973
    4-track stereo cartridge based on PlayTape

    HiPac

    1971–1973
    4-track stereo cartridge based on PlayTape

    HiPac

    1971–1973
    4-track stereo cartridge based on PlayTape

    HiPac

    1971–1973
    4-track stereo cartridge based on PlayTape
  • Omni Entertainment System

    1980–mid-1980s
    Tracks holding trivia questions and data for scoring

    Omni Entertainment System

    1980–mid-1980s
    Tracks holding trivia questions and data for scoring

    Omni Entertainment System

    1980–mid-1980s
    Tracks holding trivia questions and data for scoring

    Omni Entertainment System

    1980–mid-1980s
    Tracks holding trivia questions and data for scoring

    Omni Entertainment System

    1980–mid-1980s
    Tracks holding trivia questions and data for scoring
  • Phone-Mate

    1980s
    Endless loop answering machine tape

    Phone-Mate

    1980s
    Endless loop answering machine tape

    Phone-Mate

    1980s
    Endless loop answering machine tape

    Phone-Mate

    1980s
    Endless loop answering machine tape

    Phone-Mate

    1980s
    Endless loop answering machine tape
  • Takachiho

    1980s–1990s
    Answering machine tape for playing commercial messages

    Takachiho

    1980s–1990s
    Answering machine tape for playing commercial messages

    Takachiho

    1980s–1990s
    Answering machine tape for playing commercial messages

    Takachiho

    1980s–1990s
    Answering machine tape for playing commercial messages

    Takachiho

    1980s–1990s
    Answering machine tape for playing commercial messages
  • Bandai Micro Cartridge

    mid-1980s
    For a miniature Wurlitzer juke box

    Bandai Micro Cartridge

    mid-1980s
    For a miniature Wurlitzer juke box

    Bandai Micro Cartridge

    mid-1980s
    For a miniature Wurlitzer juke box

    Bandai Micro Cartridge

    mid-1980s
    For a miniature Wurlitzer juke box

    Bandai Micro Cartridge

    mid-1980s
    For a miniature Wurlitzer juke box
  • Pocket Rockers

    1988–1991
    2-song cartridge for pre-teens

    Pocket Rockers

    1988–1991
    2-song cartridge for pre-teens

    Pocket Rockers

    1988–1991
    2-song cartridge for pre-teens

    Pocket Rockers

    1988–1991
    2-song cartridge for pre-teens

    Pocket Rockers

    1988–1991
    2-song cartridge for pre-teens

Cassette

A tape cassette holds two reels side-by-side in a hard shell. The tape is fixed to both reels and can be inserted into the player without threading. There were a number of early cassette formats—often targeted at dictation—before Philips developed the familiar compact cassette in 1962. In contrast to many inventors of new media formats, Philips licensed it at no cost to other manufacturers and it was widely adopted. Prerecorded cassettes followed in 1965 and came to dominate the market for recorded music, surpassing vinyl in the mid-1980s (only to be eclipsed by the compact disc in the 1990s). The sound quality wasn't as good as vinyl or reel-to-reel tape, but a cassette was easy to use in a car, could be played in a portable player and could survive storage in a shoebox. The cassette format was later adopted for digital audio, as well as analog and digital video.

Cassettes came to occupy an important place in popular culture. They let people bring their music with them: in their car—it was a cassette that played Bohemian Rhapsody in the film Wayne's World—or walking around (not to mention roller-blading, as in a famous ad for the Sony Walkman). Cassettes made the boom-box possible. With cassettes, the concept of a "mix-tape" became a fixture in popular culture, a concept that lived on with writable CDs and as playlists for streaming media.

  • Optaphon

    1950–mid-1950s
    First cassette tape—a plastic shell holding two 7 in. reels

    Optaphon

    1950–mid-1950s
    First cassette tape—a plastic shell holding two 7 in. reels

    Optaphon

    1950–mid-1950s
    First cassette tape—a plastic shell holding two 7 in. reels

    Optaphon

    1950–mid-1950s
    First cassette tape—a plastic shell holding two 7 in. reels

    Optaphon

    1950–mid-1950s
    First cassette tape—a plastic shell holding two 7 in. reels
  • Dictet

    1957–c. 1962
    Dictaphone portable dictation recorder

    Dictet

    1957–c. 1962
    Dictaphone portable dictation recorder

    Dictet

    1957–c. 1962
    Dictaphone portable dictation recorder

    Dictet

    1957–c. 1962
    Dictaphone portable dictation recorder

    Dictet

    1957–c. 1962
    Dictaphone portable dictation recorder
  • RCA Sound Tape

    1958–1964
    First cassette with prerecorded music

    RCA Sound Tape

    1958–1964
    First cassette with prerecorded music

    RCA Sound Tape

    1958–1964
    First cassette with prerecorded music

    RCA Sound Tape

    1958–1964
    First cassette with prerecorded music

    RCA Sound Tape

    1958–1964
    First cassette with prerecorded music
  • EL3951

    c. 1958–c. 1960
    Philips dictation recorder

    EL3951

    c. 1958–c. 1960
    Philips dictation recorder

    EL3951

    c. 1958–c. 1960
    Philips dictation recorder

    EL3951

    c. 1958–c. 1960
    Philips dictation recorder

    EL3951

    c. 1958–c. 1960
    Philips dictation recorder
  • Minifon Attaché

    c. 1959–1967
    Dictation and spy recorder

    Minifon Attaché

    c. 1959–1967
    Dictation and spy recorder

    Minifon Attaché

    c. 1959–1967
    Dictation and spy recorder

    Minifon Attaché

    c. 1959–1967
    Dictation and spy recorder

    Minifon Attaché

    c. 1959–1967
    Dictation and spy recorder
  • Garrard Tape Magazine

    1959–c. 1963
    Instrumentation data recording

    Garrard Tape Magazine

    1959–c. 1963
    Instrumentation data recording

    Garrard Tape Magazine

    1959–c. 1963
    Instrumentation data recording

    Garrard Tape Magazine

    1959–c. 1963
    Instrumentation data recording

    Garrard Tape Magazine

    1959–c. 1963
    Instrumentation data recording
  • Memocord MT590 Cassette

    mid-1960s
    Predecessor to the Ind-X-Matic

    Memocord MT590 Cassette

    mid-1960s
    Predecessor to the Ind-X-Matic

    Memocord MT590 Cassette

    mid-1960s
    Predecessor to the Ind-X-Matic

    Memocord MT590 Cassette

    mid-1960s
    Predecessor to the Ind-X-Matic

    Memocord MT590 Cassette

    mid-1960s
    Predecessor to the Ind-X-Matic
  • Ind-X-Matic

    c. 1965–mid-1970s
    Dictation cassette with built-in analog counter

    Ind-X-Matic

    c. 1965–mid-1970s
    Dictation cassette with built-in analog counter

    Ind-X-Matic

    c. 1965–mid-1970s
    Dictation cassette with built-in analog counter

    Ind-X-Matic

    c. 1965–mid-1970s
    Dictation cassette with built-in analog counter

    Ind-X-Matic

    c. 1965–mid-1970s
    Dictation cassette with built-in analog counter
  • Memocord Ind-X-Matic MC990

    late 1970s (?)
    Later version of Ind-X-Matic with decimal counter

    Memocord Ind-X-Matic MC990

    late 1970s (?)
    Later version of Ind-X-Matic with decimal counter

    Memocord Ind-X-Matic MC990

    late 1970s (?)
    Later version of Ind-X-Matic with decimal counter

    Memocord Ind-X-Matic MC990

    late 1970s (?)
    Later version of Ind-X-Matic with decimal counter

    Memocord Ind-X-Matic MC990

    late 1970s (?)
    Later version of Ind-X-Matic with decimal counter
  • Vity

    c. 1961
    Nippon Vity recorder

    Vity

    c. 1961
    Nippon Vity recorder

    Vity

    c. 1961
    Nippon Vity recorder

    Vity

    c. 1961
    Nippon Vity recorder

    Vity

    c. 1961
    Nippon Vity recorder
  • Compact Cassette

    1963–2010
    The standard for portable prerecorded music

    Compact Cassette

    1963–2010
    The standard for portable prerecorded music

    Compact Cassette

    1963–2010
    The standard for portable prerecorded music

    Compact Cassette

    1963–2010
    The standard for portable prerecorded music

    Compact Cassette

    1963–2010
    The standard for portable prerecorded music
  • Sabamobil

    1964–1968
    Used in automobile and portable players

    Sabamobil

    1964–1968
    Used in automobile and portable players

    Sabamobil

    1964–1968
    Used in automobile and portable players

    Sabamobil

    1964–1968
    Used in automobile and portable players

    Sabamobil

    1964–1968
    Used in automobile and portable players
  • EN3

    1964–mid 1970's
    Grundig hand-held dictation/memo recorder

    EN3

    1964–mid 1970's
    Grundig hand-held dictation/memo recorder

    EN3

    1964–mid 1970's
    Grundig hand-held dictation/memo recorder

    EN3

    1964–mid 1970's
    Grundig hand-held dictation/memo recorder

    EN3

    1964–mid 1970's
    Grundig hand-held dictation/memo recorder
  • DC International

    1965–1968
    Grundig's unsuccessful competitor to Philips' compact cassette

    DC International

    1965–1968
    Grundig's unsuccessful competitor to Philips' compact cassette

    DC International

    1965–1968
    Grundig's unsuccessful competitor to Philips' compact cassette

    DC International

    1965–1968
    Grundig's unsuccessful competitor to Philips' compact cassette

    DC International

    1965–1968
    Grundig's unsuccessful competitor to Philips' compact cassette
  • Clarke & Smith Tapete

    1965–late 1990's
    Audio books for the blind

    Clarke & Smith Tapete

    1965–late 1990's
    Audio books for the blind

    Clarke & Smith Tapete

    1965–late 1990's
    Audio books for the blind

    Clarke & Smith Tapete

    1965–late 1990's
    Audio books for the blind

    Clarke & Smith Tapete

    1965–late 1990's
    Audio books for the blind
  • Norelco 85

    1967–mid-1970s
    U.S. brand of Philips mini-cassette

    Norelco 85

    1967–mid-1970s
    U.S. brand of Philips mini-cassette

    Norelco 85

    1967–mid-1970s
    U.S. brand of Philips mini-cassette

    Norelco 85

    1967–mid-1970s
    U.S. brand of Philips mini-cassette

    Norelco 85

    1967–mid-1970s
    U.S. brand of Philips mini-cassette
  • DEJ 614

    c. 1968
    Grundig DeJur Mini Memo recorder

    DEJ 614

    c. 1968
    Grundig DeJur Mini Memo recorder

    DEJ 614

    c. 1968
    Grundig DeJur Mini Memo recorder

    DEJ 614

    c. 1968
    Grundig DeJur Mini Memo recorder

    DEJ 614

    c. 1968
    Grundig DeJur Mini Memo recorder
  • Microcassette

    1969–present
    Slower speed gives similar capacity to full-size cassette

    Microcassette

    1969–present
    Slower speed gives similar capacity to full-size cassette

    Microcassette

    1969–present
    Slower speed gives similar capacity to full-size cassette

    Microcassette

    1969–present
    Slower speed gives similar capacity to full-size cassette

    Microcassette

    1969–present
    Slower speed gives similar capacity to full-size cassette
  • Sankyo M-Cassette


    Sankyo M-Cassette


    Sankyo M-Cassette


    Sankyo M-Cassette


    Sankyo M-Cassette


  • Sanyo Cartridge-Corder

    c. 1970
    Failed competition for compact cassette

    Sanyo Cartridge-Corder

    c. 1970
    Failed competition for compact cassette

    Sanyo Cartridge-Corder

    c. 1970
    Failed competition for compact cassette

    Sanyo Cartridge-Corder

    c. 1970
    Failed competition for compact cassette

    Sanyo Cartridge-Corder

    c. 1970
    Failed competition for compact cassette
  • Grundig Steno

    1971–present
    Built-in tape counter for dictation

    Grundig Steno

    1971–present
    Built-in tape counter for dictation

    Grundig Steno

    1971–present
    Built-in tape counter for dictation

    Grundig Steno

    1971–present
    Built-in tape counter for dictation

    Grundig Steno

    1971–present
    Built-in tape counter for dictation
  • Amerex Alpha One

    c. 1972
    Precision spy recorder

    Amerex Alpha One

    c. 1972
    Precision spy recorder

    Amerex Alpha One

    c. 1972
    Precision spy recorder

    Amerex Alpha One

    c. 1972
    Precision spy recorder

    Amerex Alpha One

    c. 1972
    Precision spy recorder
  • Kalavox Sound Slide

    mid-1970s
    Has slot to hold a 35 mm slide

    Kalavox Sound Slide

    mid-1970s
    Has slot to hold a 35 mm slide

    Kalavox Sound Slide

    mid-1970s
    Has slot to hold a 35 mm slide

    Kalavox Sound Slide

    mid-1970s
    Has slot to hold a 35 mm slide

    Kalavox Sound Slide

    mid-1970s
    Has slot to hold a 35 mm slide
  • Elcaset

    1976–1980
    Better sound quality than compact cassette

    Elcaset

    1976–1980
    Better sound quality than compact cassette

    Elcaset

    1976–1980
    Better sound quality than compact cassette

    Elcaset

    1976–1980
    Better sound quality than compact cassette

    Elcaset

    1976–1980
    Better sound quality than compact cassette
  • Cassingle

    1980–mid-2000s
    One song per side, like 7 in. vinyl single

    Cassingle

    1980–mid-2000s
    One song per side, like 7 in. vinyl single

    Cassingle

    1980–mid-2000s
    One song per side, like 7 in. vinyl single

    Cassingle

    1980–mid-2000s
    One song per side, like 7 in. vinyl single

    Cassingle

    1980–mid-2000s
    One song per side, like 7 in. vinyl single
  • Nagra JBR

    1984–2007
    Spy recorder used by FBI and others

    Nagra JBR

    1984–2007
    Spy recorder used by FBI and others

    Nagra JBR

    1984–2007
    Spy recorder used by FBI and others

    Nagra JBR

    1984–2007
    Spy recorder used by FBI and others

    Nagra JBR

    1984–2007
    Spy recorder used by FBI and others
  • Audio Craft

    1980s
    Contains a miniature removable cartridge

    Audio Craft

    1980s
    Contains a miniature removable cartridge

    Audio Craft

    1980s
    Contains a miniature removable cartridge

    Audio Craft

    1980s
    Contains a miniature removable cartridge

    Audio Craft

    1980s
    Contains a miniature removable cartridge
  • TEAC Ocasse

    mid-1980s
    Metal frame with removable reels

    TEAC Ocasse

    mid-1980s
    Metal frame with removable reels

    TEAC Ocasse

    mid-1980s
    Metal frame with removable reels

    TEAC Ocasse

    mid-1980s
    Metal frame with removable reels

    TEAC Ocasse

    mid-1980s
    Metal frame with removable reels
  • Picocassette

    1985–late 1980s
    Smallest analog cassette

    Picocassette

    1985–late 1980s
    Smallest analog cassette

    Picocassette

    1985–late 1980s
    Smallest analog cassette

    Picocassette

    1985–late 1980s
    Smallest analog cassette

    Picocassette

    1985–late 1980s
    Smallest analog cassette
  • Digital Audio Tape

    1987–2005

    Digital Audio Tape

    1987–2005

    Digital Audio Tape

    1987–2005

    Digital Audio Tape

    1987–2005

    Digital Audio Tape

    1987–2005
  • Yamaha M20P

    1991–1995
    Professional multi-track digital

    Yamaha M20P

    1991–1995
    Professional multi-track digital

    Yamaha M20P

    1991–1995
    Professional multi-track digital

    Yamaha M20P

    1991–1995
    Professional multi-track digital

    Yamaha M20P

    1991–1995
    Professional multi-track digital
  • Sony NT Micro-cassette

    1992–1996
    Smallest digital cassette

    Sony NT Micro-cassette

    1992–1996
    Smallest digital cassette

    Sony NT Micro-cassette

    1992–1996
    Smallest digital cassette

    Sony NT Micro-cassette

    1992–1996
    Smallest digital cassette

    Sony NT Micro-cassette

    1992–1996
    Smallest digital cassette
  • Digital Compact Cassette

    1992–1996
    Consumer alternative to expensive pro DAT systems

    Digital Compact Cassette

    1992–1996
    Consumer alternative to expensive pro DAT systems

    Digital Compact Cassette

    1992–1996
    Consumer alternative to expensive pro DAT systems

    Digital Compact Cassette

    1992–1996
    Consumer alternative to expensive pro DAT systems

    Digital Compact Cassette

    1992–1996
    Consumer alternative to expensive pro DAT systems
  • ADAT

    1992–present
    Digital audio on S-VHS videotape

    ADAT

    1992–present
    Digital audio on S-VHS videotape

    ADAT

    1992–present
    Digital audio on S-VHS videotape

    ADAT

    1992–present
    Digital audio on S-VHS videotape

    ADAT

    1992–present
    Digital audio on S-VHS videotape
  • Tascam DTRS

    1993–2012
    Digital audio on Hi8 video cassette

    Tascam DTRS

    1993–2012
    Digital audio on Hi8 video cassette

    Tascam DTRS

    1993–2012
    Digital audio on Hi8 video cassette

    Tascam DTRS

    1993–2012
    Digital audio on Hi8 video cassette

    Tascam DTRS

    1993–2012
    Digital audio on Hi8 video cassette
  • Sony DV2000


    Sony DV2000


    Sony DV2000


    Sony DV2000


    Sony DV2000


Coaxial-Reel Cartridge

A coaxial-reel cartridge is similar to a cassette, but with the two reels stacked on a single spindle. The tape moves diagonally from the top to the bottom reel.

  • Mohawk Midgetape

    1955–1959
    The first "pocket-size" tape recorder.

    Mohawk Midgetape

    1955–1959
    The first "pocket-size" tape recorder.

    Mohawk Midgetape

    1955–1959
    The first "pocket-size" tape recorder.

    Mohawk Midgetape

    1955–1959
    The first "pocket-size" tape recorder.

    Mohawk Midgetape

    1955–1959
    The first "pocket-size" tape recorder.
  • Clarke & Smith Talking Book

    1960–1965
    1/2 inch tape, up to 18 tracks. Designed for audio books for the blind

    Clarke & Smith Talking Book

    1960–1965
    1/2 inch tape, up to 18 tracks. Designed for audio books for the blind

    Clarke & Smith Talking Book

    1960–1965
    1/2 inch tape, up to 18 tracks. Designed for audio books for the blind

    Clarke & Smith Talking Book

    1960–1965
    1/2 inch tape, up to 18 tracks. Designed for audio books for the blind

    Clarke & Smith Talking Book

    1960–1965
    1/2 inch tape, up to 18 tracks. Designed for audio books for the blind
  • Channel Master

    1961
    For the Channel Master 6546 portable tape recorder.

    Channel Master

    1961
    For the Channel Master 6546 portable tape recorder.

    Channel Master

    1961
    For the Channel Master 6546 portable tape recorder.

    Channel Master

    1961
    For the Channel Master 6546 portable tape recorder.

    Channel Master

    1961
    For the Channel Master 6546 portable tape recorder.
  • 3M Cantata

    1965–late 1990's
    For the 3M Cantata 700 background music system. One cartridge holds 24 hours of music.

    3M Cantata

    1965–late 1990's
    For the 3M Cantata 700 background music system. One cartridge holds 24 hours of music.

    3M Cantata

    1965–late 1990's
    For the 3M Cantata 700 background music system. One cartridge holds 24 hours of music.

    3M Cantata

    1965–late 1990's
    For the 3M Cantata 700 background music system. One cartridge holds 24 hours of music.

    3M Cantata

    1965–late 1990's
    For the 3M Cantata 700 background music system. One cartridge holds 24 hours of music.

Strip

The Mellotron…has been one of the most loved—and most hated—musical instruments of all time.
—"Mellotron", Today's Engineer, April 2005
…it's a contraption. It's like rubber bands and gerbils on wheels.
—Michael Penn, Mellodrama: The Mellotron Movie, Dianna Dilworth (dir.), 2008.

A strip is a finite length of magnetic tape not connected to itself to form a loop. It has a beginning and an end like the tape in a cassette, but the ends aren't wrapped around reels. It's a little hard to picture and the Mellotron (and its progenitor, the Chamberlin) is the only example I know of. (If you know of other removable media that fit this category, please let me know.)

  • Mellotron M400 Tape Frame

    1970–1986
    Voices for tape-based keyboard instrument

    Mellotron M400 Tape Frame

    1970–1986
    Voices for tape-based keyboard instrument

    Mellotron M400 Tape Frame

    1970–1986
    Voices for tape-based keyboard instrument

    Mellotron M400 Tape Frame

    1970–1986
    Voices for tape-based keyboard instrument

    Mellotron M400 Tape Frame

    1970–1986
    Voices for tape-based keyboard instrument

Stereo

Stereo audio was demonstrated as early as 1881 using two telephones, one for each ear, to transmit music from the Paris Opera to the Palais de l'Industrie in Paris. As described by Scientific American at the time: "…the sound takes a special character of relief and localization which a single receiver cannot produce." ("The Telephone at the Paris Opera," Scientific American, December 31, 1881, pages 422-23, as quoted in Wikipedia.) How to store two channels of audio in a single record groove wasn't fully solved until the late 1950s, but it was straightforward to record two tracks in parallel on magnetic tape. This was first accomplished in Germany during World War II, shortly after the invention of tape recording. Early stereo recorders used two monophonic recording and playback heads, slightly offset from each other. Recording heads specifically designed for stereo with two electromagnets stacked vertically soon followed.

  • Staggered

    Zounds, What Sounds
    1949–late 1950s
    For tape player having two fullsize playback heads offset by a small amount to give them enough room

    Staggered

    Zounds, What Sounds
    1949–late 1950s
    For tape player having two fullsize playback heads offset by a small amount to give them enough room

    Staggered

    Zounds, What Sounds
    1949–late 1950s
    For tape player having two fullsize playback heads offset by a small amount to give them enough room

    Staggered

    Zounds, What Sounds
    1949–late 1950s
    For tape player having two fullsize playback heads offset by a small amount to give them enough room

    Staggered

    Zounds, What Sounds
    1949–late 1950s
    For tape player having two fullsize playback heads offset by a small amount to give them enough room
  • In-Line

    1953–present

    In-Line

    1953–present

    In-Line

    1953–present

    In-Line

    1953–present

    In-Line

    1953–present
  • Quadraphonic

    1969–late 1970s
    4 discrete tracks on ¼ in. tape.

    Quadraphonic

    1969–late 1970s
    4 discrete tracks on ¼ in. tape.

    Quadraphonic

    1969–late 1970s
    4 discrete tracks on ¼ in. tape.

    Quadraphonic

    1969–late 1970s
    4 discrete tracks on ¼ in. tape.

    Quadraphonic

    1969–late 1970s
    4 discrete tracks on ¼ in. tape.

Dictation Belt

Edison at first thought office dictation would be the most important use for the phonograph. Although prerecorded music turned out to be the killer app for audio recording, dictation machines like the Ediphone and Dictaphone used wax cylinders until the mid-1940s. They were finally replaced in 1947 with Dictaphone's introduction of the Dictabelt, which captured sound in a spiral groove on a Lexan plastic belt. But grooved belts could only be used once, unlike wax cylinders, which could be "shaved" and reused. In 1955, Comptometer addressed this limitation with a magnetic belt for a machine called the Erase-O-Matic. The IBM Executary recorded on what IBM called Magnabelts. Like the Dictabelt, magnetic belts could be folded and mailed in an envelope.

In addition to dictation, both magnetic and grooved belts were used to record interviews, phone calls and court proceedings, as well as various other forms of audio logging. In some cases, dictation belts provide a valuable historical record and are stored in libraries and archives.

  • Comptometer "Erase-O-Matic"

    1955–c. 1959
    For the Comptometer Dictation Machine

    Comptometer "Erase-O-Matic"

    1955–c. 1959
    For the Comptometer Dictation Machine

    Comptometer "Erase-O-Matic"

    1955–c. 1959
    For the Comptometer Dictation Machine

    Comptometer "Erase-O-Matic"

    1955–c. 1959
    For the Comptometer Dictation Machine

    Comptometer "Erase-O-Matic"

    1955–c. 1959
    For the Comptometer Dictation Machine
  • Stenocord

    1957–early 1970's

    Stenocord

    1957–early 1970's

    Stenocord

    1957–early 1970's

    Stenocord

    1957–early 1970's

    Stenocord

    1957–early 1970's
  • IBM Magnabelt

    1961–c. 1972
    For the IBM Executary

    IBM Magnabelt

    1961–c. 1972
    For the IBM Executary

    IBM Magnabelt

    1961–c. 1972
    For the IBM Executary

    IBM Magnabelt

    1961–c. 1972
    For the IBM Executary

    IBM Magnabelt

    1961–c. 1972
    For the IBM Executary

Audio Card

Tape reels and cassettes were bulky and relatively heavy, which made them expensive to mail. But the same magnetic coating that was applied to ribbons of tape could be applied to sheets of acetate or card stock. Magnetic cards or sheets could be treated more like paper and mailed in standard envelopes. Cards also allowed printed text and artwork to be stored with the audio, much as punch cards allowed printed information to be associated with digitally stored data. This was particularly useful for educational applications like the Language Master.

  • Remington Ultravox

    c. 1955–c. 1960
    Wrapped around a cylinder that rotated as the recording head moved down its length

    Remington Ultravox

    c. 1955–c. 1960
    Wrapped around a cylinder that rotated as the recording head moved down its length

    Remington Ultravox

    c. 1955–c. 1960
    Wrapped around a cylinder that rotated as the recording head moved down its length

    Remington Ultravox

    c. 1955–c. 1960
    Wrapped around a cylinder that rotated as the recording head moved down its length

    Remington Ultravox

    c. 1955–c. 1960
    Wrapped around a cylinder that rotated as the recording head moved down its length
  • Grundig Stenomatic

    1958–c. 1964
    Held approximately 8 min. of dictation

    Grundig Stenomatic

    1958–c. 1964
    Held approximately 8 min. of dictation

    Grundig Stenomatic

    1958–c. 1964
    Held approximately 8 min. of dictation

    Grundig Stenomatic

    1958–c. 1964
    Held approximately 8 min. of dictation

    Grundig Stenomatic

    1958–c. 1964
    Held approximately 8 min. of dictation
  • Synchrofax

    1959–mid 1980's
    8½ by 11" (A4) sheet with magnetic coating on one side with the other side available for text or imagery

    Synchrofax

    1959–mid 1980's
    8½ by 11" (A4) sheet with magnetic coating on one side with the other side available for text or imagery

    Synchrofax

    1959–mid 1980's
    8½ by 11" (A4) sheet with magnetic coating on one side with the other side available for text or imagery

    Synchrofax

    1959–mid 1980's
    8½ by 11" (A4) sheet with magnetic coating on one side with the other side available for text or imagery

    Synchrofax

    1959–mid 1980's
    8½ by 11" (A4) sheet with magnetic coating on one side with the other side available for text or imagery
  • Audiotronics Tutorette

    1967–present
    A magnetic stripe holding a few seconds of audio for reading and language instruction

    Audiotronics Tutorette

    1967–present
    A magnetic stripe holding a few seconds of audio for reading and language instruction

    Audiotronics Tutorette

    1967–present
    A magnetic stripe holding a few seconds of audio for reading and language instruction

    Audiotronics Tutorette

    1967–present
    A magnetic stripe holding a few seconds of audio for reading and language instruction

    Audiotronics Tutorette

    1967–present
    A magnetic stripe holding a few seconds of audio for reading and language instruction

Audio Disk

In addition to inventing wire recording, Vladamer Poulsen created a device around 1898 that recorded sound magnetically on steel disks, but it wasn't until the 1950's that magnetic disks for audio were commercialized. Disks avoided some of the handling problems of magnetic tape. The recording and playback devices were similar to record players, which were familiar to almost everybody. Paper-thin flexible disks like the Mail-a-Voice and Recordon could even be folded and mailed in a standard envelope. Still, magnetic audio disks never really caught on and the products shown here had relatively short lifetimes. The last gasp for magnetic audio discs was the Sony MiniDisc, a magneto-optical disc that used an entirely different recording technology from those that came before. It too had only moderate success.

  • Mail-A-Voice

    1946–1950
    Coated paper disc that could be folded for mailing

    Mail-A-Voice

    1946–1950
    Coated paper disc that could be folded for mailing

    Mail-A-Voice

    1946–1950
    Coated paper disc that could be folded for mailing

    Mail-A-Voice

    1946–1950
    Coated paper disc that could be folded for mailing

    Mail-A-Voice

    1946–1950
    Coated paper disc that could be folded for mailing
  • Recordon

    1948–1956
    An improved version of the Mail-A-Voice

    Recordon

    1948–1956
    An improved version of the Mail-A-Voice

    Recordon

    1948–1956
    An improved version of the Mail-A-Voice

    Recordon

    1948–1956
    An improved version of the Mail-A-Voice

    Recordon

    1948–1956
    An improved version of the Mail-A-Voice
  • GE Play-Talk

    1949–1950
    Coated paper disk for a toy recorder similar to the Recordon

    GE Play-Talk

    1949–1950
    Coated paper disk for a toy recorder similar to the Recordon

    GE Play-Talk

    1949–1950
    Coated paper disk for a toy recorder similar to the Recordon

    GE Play-Talk

    1949–1950
    Coated paper disk for a toy recorder similar to the Recordon

    GE Play-Talk

    1949–1950
    Coated paper disk for a toy recorder similar to the Recordon
  • Assmann Astromag

    1949–1950s
    Coated metal disk for the Assmann Dimafon dictation machine

    Assmann Astromag

    1949–1950s
    Coated metal disk for the Assmann Dimafon dictation machine

    Assmann Astromag

    1949–1950s
    Coated metal disk for the Assmann Dimafon dictation machine

    Assmann Astromag

    1949–1950s
    Coated metal disk for the Assmann Dimafon dictation machine

    Assmann Astromag

    1949–1950s
    Coated metal disk for the Assmann Dimafon dictation machine
  • Emidicta

    1950s

    Emidicta

    1950s

    Emidicta

    1950s

    Emidicta

    1950s

    Emidicta

    1950s
  • Timex Magnetic Recorder

    c. 1954–c. 1957
    Flexible dictation and home recording disk

    Timex Magnetic Recorder

    c. 1954–c. 1957
    Flexible dictation and home recording disk

    Timex Magnetic Recorder

    c. 1954–c. 1957
    Flexible dictation and home recording disk

    Timex Magnetic Recorder

    c. 1954–c. 1957
    Flexible dictation and home recording disk

    Timex Magnetic Recorder

    c. 1954–c. 1957
    Flexible dictation and home recording disk
  • Pye Record Maker

    c. 1956–c. 1960
    Home recording disk

    Pye Record Maker

    c. 1956–c. 1960
    Home recording disk

    Pye Record Maker

    c. 1956–c. 1960
    Home recording disk

    Pye Record Maker

    c. 1956–c. 1960
    Home recording disk

    Pye Record Maker

    c. 1956–c. 1960
    Home recording disk
  • Agavox

    1950s

    Agavox

    1950s

    Agavox

    1950s

    Agavox

    1950s

    Agavox

    1950s
  • RCA Magnetic Recording Disc

    1958–early 1960s
    Designed for use in radio broadcasting like a Fidelipac tape cartridge

    RCA Magnetic Recording Disc

    1958–early 1960s
    Designed for use in radio broadcasting like a Fidelipac tape cartridge

    RCA Magnetic Recording Disc

    1958–early 1960s
    Designed for use in radio broadcasting like a Fidelipac tape cartridge

    RCA Magnetic Recording Disc

    1958–early 1960s
    Designed for use in radio broadcasting like a Fidelipac tape cartridge

    RCA Magnetic Recording Disc

    1958–early 1960s
    Designed for use in radio broadcasting like a Fidelipac tape cartridge
  • Telefunken 600

    1962–c. 1970
    Flexible dictation disk

    Telefunken 600

    1962–c. 1970
    Flexible dictation disk

    Telefunken 600

    1962–c. 1970
    Flexible dictation disk

    Telefunken 600

    1962–c. 1970
    Flexible dictation disk

    Telefunken 600

    1962–c. 1970
    Flexible dictation disk
  • 3M Sound Slide

    1969

    3M Sound Slide

    1969

    3M Sound Slide

    1969

    3M Sound Slide

    1969

    3M Sound Slide

    1969
  • IBM 6:5

    1975
    Up to 25 flexible disks in a plastic slipcase, for dictation

    IBM 6:5

    1975
    Up to 25 flexible disks in a plastic slipcase, for dictation

    IBM 6:5

    1975
    Up to 25 flexible disks in a plastic slipcase, for dictation

    IBM 6:5

    1975
    Up to 25 flexible disks in a plastic slipcase, for dictation

    IBM 6:5

    1975
    Up to 25 flexible disks in a plastic slipcase, for dictation
  • Sony MiniDisc

    1992–2013
    Magneto-optical disc holding about 75 min. of digital audio

    Sony MiniDisc

    1992–2013
    Magneto-optical disc holding about 75 min. of digital audio

    Sony MiniDisc

    1992–2013
    Magneto-optical disc holding about 75 min. of digital audio

    Sony MiniDisc

    1992–2013
    Magneto-optical disc holding about 75 min. of digital audio

    Sony MiniDisc

    1992–2013
    Magneto-optical disc holding about 75 min. of digital audio

Magnetic Film

In addition to optical sound-on-film and sound-on-disc, movie soundtracks have been stored on magnetic strips running the length of the film alongside the movie frames. Film fully coated with magnetic material (i.e., without images) has also been used as both a recording and a playback medium.

  • 16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to record movie audio on a recorder kept in sync with the camera

    16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to record movie audio on a recorder kept in sync with the camera

    16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to record movie audio on a recorder kept in sync with the camera

    16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to record movie audio on a recorder kept in sync with the camera

    16 mm Full Coat

    1929–present
    Used to record movie audio on a recorder kept in sync with the camera
  • Cinerama Soundtrack

    1952–1963
    3 strips of images and 1 strip of full-coat magnetic film holding 7 audio tracks

    Cinerama Soundtrack

    1952–1963
    3 strips of images and 1 strip of full-coat magnetic film holding 7 audio tracks

    Cinerama Soundtrack

    1952–1963
    3 strips of images and 1 strip of full-coat magnetic film holding 7 audio tracks

    Cinerama Soundtrack

    1952–1963
    3 strips of images and 1 strip of full-coat magnetic film holding 7 audio tracks

    Cinerama Soundtrack

    1952–1963
    3 strips of images and 1 strip of full-coat magnetic film holding 7 audio tracks
  • 70 mm Soundtrack

    1955–present
    6 tracks on 4 magnetic stripes

    70 mm Soundtrack

    1955–present
    6 tracks on 4 magnetic stripes

    70 mm Soundtrack

    1955–present
    6 tracks on 4 magnetic stripes

    70 mm Soundtrack

    1955–present
    6 tracks on 4 magnetic stripes

    70 mm Soundtrack

    1955–present
    6 tracks on 4 magnetic stripes
  • Sankey Rols Rologram

    c. 1962–1970
    Dictation recorded transversally on 2½ in. (63 mm) magnetic film

    Sankey Rols Rologram

    c. 1962–1970
    Dictation recorded transversally on 2½ in. (63 mm) magnetic film

    Sankey Rols Rologram

    c. 1962–1970
    Dictation recorded transversally on 2½ in. (63 mm) magnetic film

    Sankey Rols Rologram

    c. 1962–1970
    Dictation recorded transversally on 2½ in. (63 mm) magnetic film

    Sankey Rols Rologram

    c. 1962–1970
    Dictation recorded transversally on 2½ in. (63 mm) magnetic film
  • 3-Track Magnetic


    3-Track Magnetic


    3-Track Magnetic


    3-Track Magnetic


    3-Track Magnetic


Data Tape

Punched tape, repurposed from telegraphy for use as on- and offline storage in early computers, was slow and had a storage density of only 10 characters per inch. This became inadequate as computers grew faster and more powerful. In 1950 the early SEAC computer used audio recording wire in a cassette. Magnetic tape was first used in the UNIVAC I computer in 1951. It provided 128 characters per inch and was dramatically faster than paper tape. Open reel tape was replaced by cartridges in the 1980s.

Although disks and solid state memory have replaced tape for online storage, high density magnetic tape cartridges are still in use today for backup and long term storage, often in robotic libraries. Over time, the storage density of tape has increased at a steady rate, while the growth in hard drive capacity has begun to slow. Tape produces fewer errors than disks and is more secure because it is normally offline. Perhaps most importantly, tape is far cheaper than disks on a per gigabyte basis. As of 2017, CERN was storing over 200 petabytes of data in their robotic tape library. After a software defect led Gmail to lose thousands of saved emails in 2011, Google was able to restore users’ data from tape.

Open Reel

From the 1950s to the 1970s—a period when computers existed mainly in corporate, military or academic computing centers—open-reel tape drives were probably the most vivid image of computers in the mind of the public. In movies from Dr. Strangelove to Mars Needs Women, nothing said "computer" better than a bank of tape drives spinning randomly in the background.

  • Univac Metal Tape

    1951–mid-1950s
    Nickel-plated phosphor bronze tape, holding 224KB.

    Univac Metal Tape

    1951–mid-1950s
    Nickel-plated phosphor bronze tape, holding 224KB.

    Univac Metal Tape

    1951–mid-1950s
    Nickel-plated phosphor bronze tape, holding 224KB.

    Univac Metal Tape

    1951–mid-1950s
    Nickel-plated phosphor bronze tape, holding 224KB.

    Univac Metal Tape

    1951–mid-1950s
    Nickel-plated phosphor bronze tape, holding 224KB.
  • IBM 729 7-Track

    1952–mid 1960s
    Used in early IBM tape drives, including the 729 vacuum column drive.

    IBM 729 7-Track

    1952–mid 1960s
    Used in early IBM tape drives, including the 729 vacuum column drive.

    IBM 729 7-Track

    1952–mid 1960s
    Used in early IBM tape drives, including the 729 vacuum column drive.

    IBM 729 7-Track

    1952–mid 1960s
    Used in early IBM tape drives, including the 729 vacuum column drive.

    IBM 729 7-Track

    1952–mid 1960s
    Used in early IBM tape drives, including the 729 vacuum column drive.
  • General Electric ¾ in. Tape

    1960–1970
    11-track tape

    General Electric ¾ in. Tape

    1960–1970
    11-track tape

    General Electric ¾ in. Tape

    1960–1970
    11-track tape

    General Electric ¾ in. Tape

    1960–1970
    11-track tape

    General Electric ¾ in. Tape

    1960–1970
    11-track tape
  • DEC LINCtape

    1962–1963
    Predecessor to DECtape

    DEC LINCtape

    1962–1963
    Predecessor to DECtape

    DEC LINCtape

    1962–1963
    Predecessor to DECtape

    DEC LINCtape

    1962–1963
    Predecessor to DECtape

    DEC LINCtape

    1962–1963
    Predecessor to DECtape
  • DEC Microtape

    1963
    DECtape was briefly called "microtape" by DEC before it was renamed DECtape. The product itself is identical.

    DEC Microtape

    1963
    DECtape was briefly called "microtape" by DEC before it was renamed DECtape. The product itself is identical.

    DEC Microtape

    1963
    DECtape was briefly called "microtape" by DEC before it was renamed DECtape. The product itself is identical.

    DEC Microtape

    1963
    DECtape was briefly called "microtape" by DEC before it was renamed DECtape. The product itself is identical.

    DEC Microtape

    1963
    DECtape was briefly called "microtape" by DEC before it was renamed DECtape. The product itself is identical.
  • DECtape

    1964–late 1970's
    Based on DEC's earlier LINCtape

    DECtape

    1964–late 1970's
    Based on DEC's earlier LINCtape

    DECtape

    1964–late 1970's
    Based on DEC's earlier LINCtape

    DECtape

    1964–late 1970's
    Based on DEC's earlier LINCtape

    DECtape

    1964–late 1970's
    Based on DEC's earlier LINCtape
  • 9-Track

    1964–2002
    Standard open reel tape for mainframe computers, introduced with the IBM System/360

    9-Track

    1964–2002
    Standard open reel tape for mainframe computers, introduced with the IBM System/360

    9-Track

    1964–2002
    Standard open reel tape for mainframe computers, introduced with the IBM System/360

    9-Track

    1964–2002
    Standard open reel tape for mainframe computers, introduced with the IBM System/360

    9-Track

    1964–2002
    Standard open reel tape for mainframe computers, introduced with the IBM System/360
  • Interdyne MicroReel

    c. 1984–1986
    Self-threading reel for tape backup on PCs

    Interdyne MicroReel

    c. 1984–1986
    Self-threading reel for tape backup on PCs

    Interdyne MicroReel

    c. 1984–1986
    Self-threading reel for tape backup on PCs

    Interdyne MicroReel

    c. 1984–1986
    Self-threading reel for tape backup on PCs

    Interdyne MicroReel

    c. 1984–1986
    Self-threading reel for tape backup on PCs

Cartridge

Just as for audio tape, cartridges offered handling advantages over open reels. Cartridges can be handled robotically in data "jukeboxes," which can hold huge amounts of offline data. In the context of magnetic data tape, the general term cartridge includes cassettes, continuous cartridges, and cartridge-loading reels.

  • IBM Tractor

    1962–1976
    IBM 1¾ in. tape cassette for the one-off NSA Harvest supercomputer

    IBM Tractor

    1962–1976
    IBM 1¾ in. tape cassette for the one-off NSA Harvest supercomputer

    IBM Tractor

    1962–1976
    IBM 1¾ in. tape cassette for the one-off NSA Harvest supercomputer

    IBM Tractor

    1962–1976
    IBM 1¾ in. tape cassette for the one-off NSA Harvest supercomputer

    IBM Tractor

    1962–1976
    IBM 1¾ in. tape cassette for the one-off NSA Harvest supercomputer
  • IBM MT/ST

    1964–mid 1970's
    Text storage for the first word processor, based on the IBM Selectric typewriter

    IBM MT/ST

    1964–mid 1970's
    Text storage for the first word processor, based on the IBM Selectric typewriter

    IBM MT/ST

    1964–mid 1970's
    Text storage for the first word processor, based on the IBM Selectric typewriter

    IBM MT/ST

    1964–mid 1970's
    Text storage for the first word processor, based on the IBM Selectric typewriter

    IBM MT/ST

    1964–mid 1970's
    Text storage for the first word processor, based on the IBM Selectric typewriter
  • Tri-Data Cartrifile

    c. 1970–early 1980s
    Used for early mini-computers like the PDP-8

    Tri-Data Cartrifile

    c. 1970–early 1980s
    Used for early mini-computers like the PDP-8

    Tri-Data Cartrifile

    c. 1970–early 1980s
    Used for early mini-computers like the PDP-8

    Tri-Data Cartrifile

    c. 1970–early 1980s
    Used for early mini-computers like the PDP-8

    Tri-Data Cartrifile

    c. 1970–early 1980s
    Used for early mini-computers like the PDP-8
  • DECtape II

    1978–mid 1980's
    Tape width of 3.8 mm (same as a compact audio cassette)

    DECtape II

    1978–mid 1980's
    Tape width of 3.8 mm (same as a compact audio cassette)

    DECtape II

    1978–mid 1980's
    Tape width of 3.8 mm (same as a compact audio cassette)

    DECtape II

    1978–mid 1980's
    Tape width of 3.8 mm (same as a compact audio cassette)

    DECtape II

    1978–mid 1980's
    Tape width of 3.8 mm (same as a compact audio cassette)
  • Exatron Stringy Floppy

    1978–1986
    Continuous loop of 1/16 in. tape for the TRS-80

    Exatron Stringy Floppy

    1978–1986
    Continuous loop of 1/16 in. tape for the TRS-80

    Exatron Stringy Floppy

    1978–1986
    Continuous loop of 1/16 in. tape for the TRS-80

    Exatron Stringy Floppy

    1978–1986
    Continuous loop of 1/16 in. tape for the TRS-80

    Exatron Stringy Floppy

    1978–1986
    Continuous loop of 1/16 in. tape for the TRS-80
  • HP DC100

    1975–1987
    Used in HP desktop calculators of the time

    HP DC100

    1975–1987
    Used in HP desktop calculators of the time

    HP DC100

    1975–1987
    Used in HP desktop calculators of the time

    HP DC100

    1975–1987
    Used in HP desktop calculators of the time

    HP DC100

    1975–1987
    Used in HP desktop calculators of the time
  • Soviet Minsk(?)

    1960s

    Soviet Minsk(?)

    1960s

    Soviet Minsk(?)

    1960s

    Soviet Minsk(?)

    1960s

    Soviet Minsk(?)

    1960s
  • HP 82176A Mini Data Cassette

    1982–mid 1980s
    For the HP 41 calculator

    HP 82176A Mini Data Cassette

    1982–mid 1980s
    For the HP 41 calculator

    HP 82176A Mini Data Cassette

    1982–mid 1980s
    For the HP 41 calculator

    HP 82176A Mini Data Cassette

    1982–mid 1980s
    For the HP 41 calculator

    HP 82176A Mini Data Cassette

    1982–mid 1980s
    For the HP 41 calculator
  • Sinclair Microdrive

    1983–1985
    Continuous loop tape for ZX Spectrum home computer

    Sinclair Microdrive

    1983–1985
    Continuous loop tape for ZX Spectrum home computer

    Sinclair Microdrive

    1983–1985
    Continuous loop tape for ZX Spectrum home computer

    Sinclair Microdrive

    1983–1985
    Continuous loop tape for ZX Spectrum home computer

    Sinclair Microdrive

    1983–1985
    Continuous loop tape for ZX Spectrum home computer
  • Coleco Adam Digital Data Pack

    1983–1985
    Audio cassette for the Coleco Adam home computer

    Coleco Adam Digital Data Pack

    1983–1985
    Audio cassette for the Coleco Adam home computer

    Coleco Adam Digital Data Pack

    1983–1985
    Audio cassette for the Coleco Adam home computer

    Coleco Adam Digital Data Pack

    1983–1985
    Audio cassette for the Coleco Adam home computer

    Coleco Adam Digital Data Pack

    1983–1985
    Audio cassette for the Coleco Adam home computer
  • CompacTape (DLT)

    1984–early 1990s
    Originally developed by DEC for the mini-VAX and PDP-11

    CompacTape (DLT)

    1984–early 1990s
    Originally developed by DEC for the mini-VAX and PDP-11

    CompacTape (DLT)

    1984–early 1990s
    Originally developed by DEC for the mini-VAX and PDP-11

    CompacTape (DLT)

    1984–early 1990s
    Originally developed by DEC for the mini-VAX and PDP-11

    CompacTape (DLT)

    1984–early 1990s
    Originally developed by DEC for the mini-VAX and PDP-11
  • HP 9144A

    1984–c. 1988
    Based on, but not compatible with the 3M QIC cartridge

    HP 9144A

    1984–c. 1988
    Based on, but not compatible with the 3M QIC cartridge

    HP 9144A

    1984–c. 1988
    Based on, but not compatible with the 3M QIC cartridge

    HP 9144A

    1984–c. 1988
    Based on, but not compatible with the 3M QIC cartridge

    HP 9144A

    1984–c. 1988
    Based on, but not compatible with the 3M QIC cartridge
  • IBM 3480

    1984–2004

    IBM 3480

    1984–2004

    IBM 3480

    1984–2004

    IBM 3480

    1984–2004

    IBM 3480

    1984–2004
  • Megatape MDC-500

    late 1980s
    ½ in. tape for streaming backup drives

    Megatape MDC-500

    late 1980s
    ½ in. tape for streaming backup drives

    Megatape MDC-500

    late 1980s
    ½ in. tape for streaming backup drives

    Megatape MDC-500

    late 1980s
    ½ in. tape for streaming backup drives

    Megatape MDC-500

    late 1980s
    ½ in. tape for streaming backup drives
  • Digital Data Storage (DDS)

    1989–present

    Digital Data Storage (DDS)

    1989–present

    Digital Data Storage (DDS)

    1989–present

    Digital Data Storage (DDS)

    1989–present

    Digital Data Storage (DDS)

    1989–present
  • StorageTek 9840

    1998–c. 2006
    Contains two-reels, which makes loading faster

    StorageTek 9840

    1998–c. 2006
    Contains two-reels, which makes loading faster

    StorageTek 9840

    1998–c. 2006
    Contains two-reels, which makes loading faster

    StorageTek 9840

    1998–c. 2006
    Contains two-reels, which makes loading faster

    StorageTek 9840

    1998–c. 2006
    Contains two-reels, which makes loading faster
  • Mini Data Cartridge

    1989–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3.5 in. floppy drive

    Mini Data Cartridge

    1989–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3.5 in. floppy drive

    Mini Data Cartridge

    1989–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3.5 in. floppy drive

    Mini Data Cartridge

    1989–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3.5 in. floppy drive

    Mini Data Cartridge

    1989–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3.5 in. floppy drive
  • Ampex DST

    1992–2000's
    3/4 in. tape

    Ampex DST

    1992–2000's
    3/4 in. tape

    Ampex DST

    1992–2000's
    3/4 in. tape

    Ampex DST

    1992–2000's
    3/4 in. tape

    Ampex DST

    1992–2000's
    3/4 in. tape
  • Sony Digital Data Tape

    early 1990s–2000s

    Sony Digital Data Tape

    early 1990s–2000s

    Sony Digital Data Tape

    early 1990s–2000s

    Sony Digital Data Tape

    early 1990s–2000s

    Sony Digital Data Tape

    early 1990s–2000s
  • Travan

    1995–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3½ in. floppy drive

    Travan

    1995–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3½ in. floppy drive

    Travan

    1995–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3½ in. floppy drive

    Travan

    1995–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3½ in. floppy drive

    Travan

    1995–present
    Drive could fit in the same space as a 3½ in. floppy drive
  • Sony AIT

    1996–2010

    Sony AIT

    1996–2010

    Sony AIT

    1996–2010

    Sony AIT

    1996–2010

    Sony AIT

    1996–2010
  • QIC Extra

    1996–2000s
    Same width as QIC mini-cartridge, but extended depth to hold more tape

    QIC Extra

    1996–2000s
    Same width as QIC mini-cartridge, but extended depth to hold more tape

    QIC Extra

    1996–2000s
    Same width as QIC mini-cartridge, but extended depth to hold more tape

    QIC Extra

    1996–2000s
    Same width as QIC mini-cartridge, but extended depth to hold more tape

    QIC Extra

    1996–2000s
    Same width as QIC mini-cartridge, but extended depth to hold more tape
  • IBM Magstar MP

    1996–2002

    IBM Magstar MP

    1996–2002

    IBM Magstar MP

    1996–2002

    IBM Magstar MP

    1996–2002

    IBM Magstar MP

    1996–2002
  • Brüel & Kjaer UD 0035

    c. 1990s–2000s (?)
    Continuous-loop tape cartridge for instrumentation recording

    Brüel & Kjaer UD 0035

    c. 1990s–2000s (?)
    Continuous-loop tape cartridge for instrumentation recording

    Brüel & Kjaer UD 0035

    c. 1990s–2000s (?)
    Continuous-loop tape cartridge for instrumentation recording

    Brüel & Kjaer UD 0035

    c. 1990s–2000s (?)
    Continuous-loop tape cartridge for instrumentation recording

    Brüel & Kjaer UD 0035

    c. 1990s–2000s (?)
    Continuous-loop tape cartridge for instrumentation recording
  • Onstream ADR

    1998–2003

    Onstream ADR

    1998–2003

    Onstream ADR

    1998–2003

    Onstream ADR

    1998–2003

    Onstream ADR

    1998–2003
  • Exabyte VXA

    1999–late 2000s
    Helical scan tape used for backups and archiving

    Exabyte VXA

    1999–late 2000s
    Helical scan tape used for backups and archiving

    Exabyte VXA

    1999–late 2000s
    Helical scan tape used for backups and archiving

    Exabyte VXA

    1999–late 2000s
    Helical scan tape used for backups and archiving

    Exabyte VXA

    1999–late 2000s
    Helical scan tape used for backups and archiving
  • Sony SAIT-1

    2003–2006

    Sony SAIT-1

    2003–2006

    Sony SAIT-1

    2003–2006

    Sony SAIT-1

    2003–2006

    Sony SAIT-1

    2003–2006
  • IBM 3592

    2003–present
    Single-reel cartridge

    IBM 3592

    2003–present
    Single-reel cartridge

    IBM 3592

    2003–present
    Single-reel cartridge

    IBM 3592

    2003–present
    Single-reel cartridge

    IBM 3592

    2003–present
    Single-reel cartridge

Magnetic Sheet

Magnetic sheets are an unusual way to store data, but they do have a couple of advantages over tapes or discs. Like disks and unlike tape, their contents can be randomly accessed, but they're less expensive than disks.

  • IBM Data Cell

    1964–1975
    Cartridge containing 200 magnetic sheets for the IBM 2321 Data Cell Drive.

    IBM Data Cell

    1964–1975
    Cartridge containing 200 magnetic sheets for the IBM 2321 Data Cell Drive.

    IBM Data Cell

    1964–1975
    Cartridge containing 200 magnetic sheets for the IBM 2321 Data Cell Drive.

    IBM Data Cell

    1964–1975
    Cartridge containing 200 magnetic sheets for the IBM 2321 Data Cell Drive.

    IBM Data Cell

    1964–1975
    Cartridge containing 200 magnetic sheets for the IBM 2321 Data Cell Drive.
  • Magicall Automatic Phone Dialer

    1965–c. 1972
    Phone numbers stored on magnetic sheet as rotary phone pulse codes for automatic dialing

    Magicall Automatic Phone Dialer

    1965–c. 1972
    Phone numbers stored on magnetic sheet as rotary phone pulse codes for automatic dialing

    Magicall Automatic Phone Dialer

    1965–c. 1972
    Phone numbers stored on magnetic sheet as rotary phone pulse codes for automatic dialing

    Magicall Automatic Phone Dialer

    1965–c. 1972
    Phone numbers stored on magnetic sheet as rotary phone pulse codes for automatic dialing

    Magicall Automatic Phone Dialer

    1965–c. 1972
    Phone numbers stored on magnetic sheet as rotary phone pulse codes for automatic dialing
  • IBM 3850 Mass Storage

    1974–1986
    For a robotic mass storage "jukebox." Each cartridge holds a 770 x 3 in. (1955 x 7.6 cm) sheet

    IBM 3850 Mass Storage

    1974–1986
    For a robotic mass storage "jukebox." Each cartridge holds a 770 x 3 in. (1955 x 7.6 cm) sheet

    IBM 3850 Mass Storage

    1974–1986
    For a robotic mass storage "jukebox." Each cartridge holds a 770 x 3 in. (1955 x 7.6 cm) sheet

    IBM 3850 Mass Storage

    1974–1986
    For a robotic mass storage "jukebox." Each cartridge holds a 770 x 3 in. (1955 x 7.6 cm) sheet

    IBM 3850 Mass Storage

    1974–1986
    For a robotic mass storage "jukebox." Each cartridge holds a 770 x 3 in. (1955 x 7.6 cm) sheet
  • CDC 38500

    1976–1988
    Cartridge for a robotic mass storage system

    CDC 38500

    1976–1988
    Cartridge for a robotic mass storage system

    CDC 38500

    1976–1988
    Cartridge for a robotic mass storage system

    CDC 38500

    1976–1988
    Cartridge for a robotic mass storage system

    CDC 38500

    1976–1988
    Cartridge for a robotic mass storage system

Data Disk

Accessing a specific data record on magnetic tape requires running linearly through the tape to reach it. While this works for archival data that will be accessed rarely and written or read in contiguous segments, it's wholly inadequate for data accessed frequently and in unpredictable order. Data on magnetic disks, introduced by IBM in 1957, allowed data anywhere on the disk to be quickly accessed by moving the read head radially across the disk. Disk drives were initially large, heavy and fixed inside the device, but removable hard disks followed in 1962 with the IBM 1311, which held about two megabytes on six fourteen-inch disks. Over time magnetic disks became smaller and lighter, while storage density increased by orders of magnitude. Removable disks have been superseded by USB drives and other flash memory-based devices, although external hard drives connected via USB are still used as a form of offline memory. Of course, fixed magnetic hard drives, which are not part of this collection, are very much alive in laptops and for cloud storage.

Removable Hard Disk

The first hard disks were a fixed part of the computer. IBM introduced removable hard disks in 1962 to provide offline as well as online storage. Disks provided a relatively lightweight and compact removable format. Libraries of such disks could store huge amounts of data. Early disks were large and heavy and typically contained multiple platters, hence the name disk packs. In the early 1980s, SyQuest introduced removable hard disks for PCs that were similar to floppies in size, but with larger capacities.

  • IBM 1316

    1962–early 1970s
    First removable disk pack. Six 14 in. platters holding 2 MB total

    IBM 1316

    1962–early 1970s
    First removable disk pack. Six 14 in. platters holding 2 MB total

    IBM 1316

    1962–early 1970s
    First removable disk pack. Six 14 in. platters holding 2 MB total

    IBM 1316

    1962–early 1970s
    First removable disk pack. Six 14 in. platters holding 2 MB total

    IBM 1316

    1962–early 1970s
    First removable disk pack. Six 14 in. platters holding 2 MB total
  • IBM 3336

    1965–1980s
    300 MB disk pack containing eleven 14 in. platters

    IBM 3336

    1965–1980s
    300 MB disk pack containing eleven 14 in. platters

    IBM 3336

    1965–1980s
    300 MB disk pack containing eleven 14 in. platters

    IBM 3336

    1965–1980s
    300 MB disk pack containing eleven 14 in. platters

    IBM 3336

    1965–1980s
    300 MB disk pack containing eleven 14 in. platters
  • UNIVAC Unidisc

    c. 1966
    A never-commercialized prototype for the UNIVAC 1004 and 1005 computers

    UNIVAC Unidisc

    c. 1966
    A never-commercialized prototype for the UNIVAC 1004 and 1005 computers

    UNIVAC Unidisc

    c. 1966
    A never-commercialized prototype for the UNIVAC 1004 and 1005 computers

    UNIVAC Unidisc

    c. 1966
    A never-commercialized prototype for the UNIVAC 1004 and 1005 computers

    UNIVAC Unidisc

    c. 1966
    A never-commercialized prototype for the UNIVAC 1004 and 1005 computers
  • IBM 3348

    1973–1984
    A sealed cartridge containing both disks and read/write heads

    IBM 3348

    1973–1984
    A sealed cartridge containing both disks and read/write heads

    IBM 3348

    1973–1984
    A sealed cartridge containing both disks and read/write heads

    IBM 3348

    1973–1984
    A sealed cartridge containing both disks and read/write heads

    IBM 3348

    1973–1984
    A sealed cartridge containing both disks and read/write heads
  • DEC RK05

    mid-1970s
    2.5 MB on a 14 in. platter

    DEC RK05

    mid-1970s
    2.5 MB on a 14 in. platter

    DEC RK05

    mid-1970s
    2.5 MB on a 14 in. platter

    DEC RK05

    mid-1970s
    2.5 MB on a 14 in. platter

    DEC RK05

    mid-1970s
    2.5 MB on a 14 in. platter
  • DEC RL01K

    1975–1980s
    5 MB stored on a 14 in. (36 cm) platter

    DEC RL01K

    1975–1980s
    5 MB stored on a 14 in. (36 cm) platter

    DEC RL01K

    1975–1980s
    5 MB stored on a 14 in. (36 cm) platter

    DEC RL01K

    1975–1980s
    5 MB stored on a 14 in. (36 cm) platter

    DEC RL01K

    1975–1980s
    5 MB stored on a 14 in. (36 cm) platter
  • CDC 1209

    c. 1982
    Three 9 in. (23 cm) platters with a capacity of 82.9 MB total

    CDC 1209

    c. 1982
    Three 9 in. (23 cm) platters with a capacity of 82.9 MB total

    CDC 1209

    c. 1982
    Three 9 in. (23 cm) platters with a capacity of 82.9 MB total

    CDC 1209

    c. 1982
    Three 9 in. (23 cm) platters with a capacity of 82.9 MB total

    CDC 1209

    c. 1982
    Three 9 in. (23 cm) platters with a capacity of 82.9 MB total
  • CDC 1210 Lark II

    1980–c. 1982
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 25 MB

    CDC 1210 Lark II

    1980–c. 1982
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 25 MB

    CDC 1210 Lark II

    1980–c. 1982
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 25 MB

    CDC 1210 Lark II

    1980–c. 1982
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 25 MB

    CDC 1210 Lark II

    1980–c. 1982
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 25 MB
  • DEC RC25K DC

    c. 1983–late 1980s
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 26 MB

    DEC RC25K DC

    c. 1983–late 1980s
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 26 MB

    DEC RC25K DC

    c. 1983–late 1980s
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 26 MB

    DEC RC25K DC

    c. 1983–late 1980s
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 26 MB

    DEC RC25K DC

    c. 1983–late 1980s
    8 in. (20 cm) disk holding 26 MB
  • DEC RA60P

    1983–late 1980s?
    Five 14 in. (36 cm) platters holding 205 MB total

    DEC RA60P

    1983–late 1980s?
    Five 14 in. (36 cm) platters holding 205 MB total

    DEC RA60P

    1983–late 1980s?
    Five 14 in. (36 cm) platters holding 205 MB total

    DEC RA60P

    1983–late 1980s?
    Five 14 in. (36 cm) platters holding 205 MB total

    DEC RA60P

    1983–late 1980s?
    Five 14 in. (36 cm) platters holding 205 MB total
  • SyQuest Q-Pak SQ-100

    1982–1986
    The first disk from SyQuest, a 3.9 in. (10 cm) disk holding 5 mb

    SyQuest Q-Pak SQ-100

    1982–1986
    The first disk from SyQuest, a 3.9 in. (10 cm) disk holding 5 mb

    SyQuest Q-Pak SQ-100

    1982–1986
    The first disk from SyQuest, a 3.9 in. (10 cm) disk holding 5 mb

    SyQuest Q-Pak SQ-100

    1982–1986
    The first disk from SyQuest, a 3.9 in. (10 cm) disk holding 5 mb

    SyQuest Q-Pak SQ-100

    1982–1986
    The first disk from SyQuest, a 3.9 in. (10 cm) disk holding 5 mb
  • SyQuest EZ 135

    1995–1996
    3½ in. (8.9 cm) disk holding 135 MB, meant to compete with the Iomega Zip disk

    SyQuest EZ 135

    1995–1996
    3½ in. (8.9 cm) disk holding 135 MB, meant to compete with the Iomega Zip disk

    SyQuest EZ 135

    1995–1996
    3½ in. (8.9 cm) disk holding 135 MB, meant to compete with the Iomega Zip disk

    SyQuest EZ 135

    1995–1996
    3½ in. (8.9 cm) disk holding 135 MB, meant to compete with the Iomega Zip disk

    SyQuest EZ 135

    1995–1996
    3½ in. (8.9 cm) disk holding 135 MB, meant to compete with the Iomega Zip disk
  • PCMCIA Hard Drive

    mid-1990s–c. 2010
    Could be inserted into a laptop's PC Card slot

    PCMCIA Hard Drive

    mid-1990s–c. 2010
    Could be inserted into a laptop's PC Card slot

    PCMCIA Hard Drive

    mid-1990s–c. 2010
    Could be inserted into a laptop's PC Card slot

    PCMCIA Hard Drive

    mid-1990s–c. 2010
    Could be inserted into a laptop's PC Card slot

    PCMCIA Hard Drive

    mid-1990s–c. 2010
    Could be inserted into a laptop's PC Card slot
  • SyQuest EZFlyer

    1996–1998
    Successor to the SyQuest EZ135, with 230 MB of memory

    SyQuest EZFlyer

    1996–1998
    Successor to the SyQuest EZ135, with 230 MB of memory

    SyQuest EZFlyer

    1996–1998
    Successor to the SyQuest EZ135, with 230 MB of memory

    SyQuest EZFlyer

    1996–1998
    Successor to the SyQuest EZ135, with 230 MB of memory

    SyQuest EZFlyer

    1996–1998
    Successor to the SyQuest EZ135, with 230 MB of memory
  • Nomai MCD 540

    1995–1999

    Nomai MCD 540

    1995–1999

    Nomai MCD 540

    1995–1999

    Nomai MCD 540

    1995–1999

    Nomai MCD 540

    1995–1999
  • Iomega Jaz

    1996–2002
    High-capacity 1 gb disk for Macs and PCs

    Iomega Jaz

    1996–2002
    High-capacity 1 gb disk for Macs and PCs

    Iomega Jaz

    1996–2002
    High-capacity 1 gb disk for Macs and PCs

    Iomega Jaz

    1996–2002
    High-capacity 1 gb disk for Macs and PCs

    Iomega Jaz

    1996–2002
    High-capacity 1 gb disk for Macs and PCs
  • Syquest SyJet SQ1500

    1996–1998
    1.5 GB, intended to compete with the Iomega Jaz drive

    Syquest SyJet SQ1500

    1996–1998
    1.5 GB, intended to compete with the Iomega Jaz drive

    Syquest SyJet SQ1500

    1996–1998
    1.5 GB, intended to compete with the Iomega Jaz drive

    Syquest SyJet SQ1500

    1996–1998
    1.5 GB, intended to compete with the Iomega Jaz drive

    Syquest SyJet SQ1500

    1996–1998
    1.5 GB, intended to compete with the Iomega Jaz drive
  • Syquest SparQ

    1997–2008

    Syquest SparQ

    1997–2008

    Syquest SparQ

    1997–2008

    Syquest SparQ

    1997–2008

    Syquest SparQ

    1997–2008
  • Castlewood Orb

    1999–2004

    Castlewood Orb

    1999–2004

    Castlewood Orb

    1999–2004

    Castlewood Orb

    1999–2004

    Castlewood Orb

    1999–2004
  • Hitachi Microdrive

    1999–2012

    Hitachi Microdrive

    1999–2012

    Hitachi Microdrive

    1999–2012

    Hitachi Microdrive

    1999–2012

    Hitachi Microdrive

    1999–2012
  • Iomega Peerless

    2001–2004

    Iomega Peerless

    2001–2004

    Iomega Peerless

    2001–2004

    Iomega Peerless

    2001–2004

    Iomega Peerless

    2001–2004
  • Iomega REV

    2004–2010

    Iomega REV

    2004–2010

    Iomega REV

    2004–2010

    Iomega REV

    2004–2010

    Iomega REV

    2004–2010
  • RDX Quikstor

    2004–present

    RDX Quikstor

    2004–present

    RDX Quikstor

    2004–present

    RDX Quikstor

    2004–present

    RDX Quikstor

    2004–present
  • Imation Odyssey

    2007–2011

    Imation Odyssey

    2007–2011

    Imation Odyssey

    2007–2011

    Imation Odyssey

    2007–2011

    Imation Odyssey

    2007–2011
  • Quantum GoVault

    2006–2010s

    Quantum GoVault

    2006–2010s

    Quantum GoVault

    2006–2010s

    Quantum GoVault

    2006–2010s

    Quantum GoVault

    2006–2010s
  • Shark 250

    1996–?

    Shark 250

    1996–?

    Shark 250

    1996–?

    Shark 250

    1996–?

    Shark 250

    1996–?

Floppy Disk

A floppy disk, also called a diskette, consists of a flexible mylar disk housed in a plastic case. The interior of the case is lined with an anti-static fabric that keeps the disk clean. A team at IBM under Alan Shugart had developed the first 8 inch floppy disk in the late 1960s, originally as a way of loading microcode into the IBM System/370 mainframe. In the mid-1970s, desktop computers emerged, demanding smaller, lighter and less expensive storage devices than the hard disk packs used in mainframes. Early microcomputers often used cassette tapes for offline storage, but tapes were slow and limited to sequential access. Floppy disks emerged as the standard for computers from Apple, Atari and Commodore. Over time floppies shrank in size from 8 in. to 5 ¼ in. to 3 ½ in.

  • 8 in.

    1971–c. 1978
    The first floppy disk, developed at IBM

    8 in.

    1971–c. 1978
    The first floppy disk, developed at IBM

    8 in.

    1971–c. 1978
    The first floppy disk, developed at IBM

    8 in.

    1971–c. 1978
    The first floppy disk, developed at IBM

    8 in.

    1971–c. 1978
    The first floppy disk, developed at IBM
  • Olivetti Minidisc

    1977–mid-1980s
    For the Olivetti P6060 personal computer

    Olivetti Minidisc

    1977–mid-1980s
    For the Olivetti P6060 personal computer

    Olivetti Minidisc

    1977–mid-1980s
    For the Olivetti P6060 personal computer

    Olivetti Minidisc

    1977–mid-1980s
    For the Olivetti P6060 personal computer

    Olivetti Minidisc

    1977–mid-1980s
    For the Olivetti P6060 personal computer
  • Olympia Mikro Disk

    c. 1980
    For Olympia typewriters

    Olympia Mikro Disk

    c. 1980
    For Olympia typewriters

    Olympia Mikro Disk

    c. 1980
    For Olympia typewriters

    Olympia Mikro Disk

    c. 1980
    For Olympia typewriters

    Olympia Mikro Disk

    c. 1980
    For Olympia typewriters
  • 5¼ in.

    1976–mid 1990's

    5¼ in.

    1976–mid 1990's

    5¼ in.

    1976–mid 1990's

    5¼ in.

    1976–mid 1990's

    5¼ in.

    1976–mid 1990's
  • Flippy Disk

    1976–mid-1980s
    Double-sided with software on both sides

    Flippy Disk

    1976–mid-1980s
    Double-sided with software on both sides

    Flippy Disk

    1976–mid-1980s
    Double-sided with software on both sides

    Flippy Disk

    1976–mid-1980s
    Double-sided with software on both sides

    Flippy Disk

    1976–mid-1980s
    Double-sided with software on both sides
  • 3½ in.

    1982–present
    Became the standard disk for PCs

    3½ in.

    1982–present
    Became the standard disk for PCs

    3½ in.

    1982–present
    Became the standard disk for PCs

    3½ in.

    1982–present
    Became the standard disk for PCs

    3½ in.

    1982–present
    Became the standard disk for PCs
  • Sony Mavipak

    1981–1992
    Held 50 analog video stills for the Sony Mavica camera

    Sony Mavipak

    1981–1992
    Held 50 analog video stills for the Sony Mavica camera

    Sony Mavipak

    1981–1992
    Held 50 analog video stills for the Sony Mavica camera

    Sony Mavipak

    1981–1992
    Held 50 analog video stills for the Sony Mavica camera

    Sony Mavipak

    1981–1992
    Held 50 analog video stills for the Sony Mavica camera
  • Iomega Bernoulli Disk

    1982–1987
    Made use of Bernoulli principle to pull surface of disk close to read/write head

    Iomega Bernoulli Disk

    1982–1987
    Made use of Bernoulli principle to pull surface of disk close to read/write head

    Iomega Bernoulli Disk

    1982–1987
    Made use of Bernoulli principle to pull surface of disk close to read/write head

    Iomega Bernoulli Disk

    1982–1987
    Made use of Bernoulli principle to pull surface of disk close to read/write head

    Iomega Bernoulli Disk

    1982–1987
    Made use of Bernoulli principle to pull surface of disk close to read/write head
  • Apple Twiggy Disk

    1983
    Proprietary 5¼ in. disk for the Apple Lisa computer.

    Apple Twiggy Disk

    1983
    Proprietary 5¼ in. disk for the Apple Lisa computer.

    Apple Twiggy Disk

    1983
    Proprietary 5¼ in. disk for the Apple Lisa computer.

    Apple Twiggy Disk

    1983
    Proprietary 5¼ in. disk for the Apple Lisa computer.

    Apple Twiggy Disk

    1983
    Proprietary 5¼ in. disk for the Apple Lisa computer.
  • IBM Demidiskette

    1983
    Prototype of a short-lived 4 in. floppy disk format

    IBM Demidiskette

    1983
    Prototype of a short-lived 4 in. floppy disk format

    IBM Demidiskette

    1983
    Prototype of a short-lived 4 in. floppy disk format

    IBM Demidiskette

    1983
    Prototype of a short-lived 4 in. floppy disk format

    IBM Demidiskette

    1983
    Prototype of a short-lived 4 in. floppy disk format
  • Dysan Flex Diskette

    1983–mid-1980s
    3¼ in. disk in flexible sleeve

    Dysan Flex Diskette

    1983–mid-1980s
    3¼ in. disk in flexible sleeve

    Dysan Flex Diskette

    1983–mid-1980s
    3¼ in. disk in flexible sleeve

    Dysan Flex Diskette

    1983–mid-1980s
    3¼ in. disk in flexible sleeve

    Dysan Flex Diskette

    1983–mid-1980s
    3¼ in. disk in flexible sleeve
  • Amstrad

    1985–1990
    For the Amstrad CPC personal computer

    Amstrad

    1985–1990
    For the Amstrad CPC personal computer

    Amstrad

    1985–1990
    For the Amstrad CPC personal computer

    Amstrad

    1985–1990
    For the Amstrad CPC personal computer