Magnetic tape

Old storage medium from 1928.

Operation of magnetic tapes

The magnetic tape, whose development began in Germany in 1928 thanks to Mr. Pfleumer, was initially designed for sound recording. However, it was not until the 1940s that the first magnetic tape made of plastic material was created, thus opening up new possibilities for its use.

Magnetic tapes are essentially made up of a thin strip of plastic film on which magnetic particles are carefully deposited. It is thanks to the polarity of these particles that data storage becomes possible, enabling the recording of the famous 0s and 1s of the binary language.

The use of magnetic tapes is incredibly diverse and depends on various parameters such as the number of tracks, the width of the tape, the data density, and many others. Here are some examples of applications where magnetic tapes are used :

  • Audio: Magnetic tapes were one of the first means to record and play sounds, whether it be for music, voice recordings, or even radio broadcasts.
  • Cinema: Magnetic tapes have also been used to record the soundtracks of films, providing a more immersive audiovisual experience.
  • Television: Magnetic tapes played a key role in the recording and broadcasting of television programs, allowing them to be reviewed later.
  • Radio: Magnetic tapes allowed the recording of radio broadcasts, offering the possibility to listen to them at a later time.
  • Backup: Magnetic tapes have long been used for the backup and archiving of large amounts of data, due to their high storage capacity and attractive cost-effectiveness.

Despite significant advances in optical reading technologies such as CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, traditional hard drives, and cloud storage, magnetic tapes retain a privileged position as a backup and archiving medium for data. Their very high storage capacity and cost-effective nature make them an attractive choice for many companies and institutions concerned with preserving their information reliably and economically.