Magnetic recording is a backbone technology of the electronic age. It is a fundamental way for permanently storing information.

  • In the audio realm, magnetic tape (in the form of compact cassettes) is a popular way of distributing music. People either buy tapes pre-recorded with material, or make their own tapes from CDs.
  • In the video realm, video tape is used widely both in the broadcast industry and at home to store material for later viewing on VCRs.
  • In the computer realm, magnetic recording is used on floppy disks, hard disks and magnetic tape as the main method for data storage.
In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we will look at magnetic recording. We'll focus on cassette tapes and tape recorders, but the same technology applies to any form of magnetic recording. You will learn that the reason why magnetic recording is so popular is because it an easy and inexpensive technology with good medium-term (10 to 20 years) storage characteristics.