Development of Magnetic Tape

The History of magnetic tape as a recording medium goes back to the Second World War, when engineers in Germany invented a device called the magneticophone for storing sound recordings. British engineers subsequently improved upon the device, creating a portable machine with much higher quality sound reproduction. After the war commercial interests took up the idea and within the next two decades the ubiquitous magnetic tape cassettes were being manufactured by the millions all throughout the world, having the advantage that not only were they a relatively cheap and light way of distributing the latest pop singles, but in most cases they could be re-recorded on  several times over, given a suitable cassette recorder. These utilised a plastic tape coated with a magnetic medium, wound between two rotating spools and held within a protective plastic case; many of these were very cheaply produced however and it was very common for the spindles of the spools to wear out and the tape to become hopelessly tangled! They did however have the great advantage that they could be used to record music which was being played on a radio or record player, and although the reproduction quality was not terribly high this was an extremely popular method of storing music illicitly, a factor which caused record company executives many sleepless nights! Tape systems were used to store data but the disadvantaging was that if someone was searching for a particular piece of data it was usually necessary to search through the entire tape before being able to dig that information out, so in practical terms tapes were really only suitable for installing programs, rather than searchable data. As with audiotapes, a commercially produced programme on a magnetic tape cassette was easy to reproduce which meant that programme piracy, which is ever since been one of the major concerns of software companies, became widespread.

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