What are Reel-to-reel audio tapes?
Reel-to-reel audio tape is where a magnetic tape is stored on a supply or feed reel, fed thru the player or recorder to a takeup reel.
History of Reel-to-reel audio tape
Reel-to-reel audio can trace it's beginnings all the way back to the late 1920s where the German-British Blattnerphone used steel tape to record. It was brought to America when Jack Mullin, an audio engineer with the US Army Signal Corps was introduced to it during World War II. Mullin worked to develop machines for commercial use, hoping to attract Hollywood film studios to the format for soundtracks.
Audio Cassettes took over the home market after their introduction in the 1960s, but the lower quality (fidelity) of the cassettes kept reel-to-reel in use for more commercial and professional audio recordings.
Common causes of damage
Since Reel-to-reel tapes use a magnetic media like video cassettes, they are prone to the same causes of damage. Heat, mold, and mildew can cause damage to the media causing loss of the audio. Physical damage to the media can corrupt the audio. Also, over time magnetic media can lose the audio stored on it.