Tape is basically rust particles painted onto a backing using a binder to make it adhere. There were four backing types - paper (which becomes acidic), acetate (which becomes brittle), polyester (which may become sticky) and PVC (mostly European). The different chemical groups to which a tape belongs is a factor in its restoration process.
Though used by the German government and broadcasting industry
since the mid 1930s, it is only after World War II that tape recorders
were offered elsewhere as a professional and consumer product.
Reel to Reel
Brittleness and stickiness are products of natural tape aging.
Poorly chosen level settings in the recording studio leads to distortion
and serious print-through- the signal on one layer sounding faintly
on adjacent strands. Improper winding results in warped tape. Leader
and aged splices are artifacts of the editing process. Fungus, bent
reels, lost documentation and other problems come from poor storage
and handling. These and other ills afflict old tape and must be
considered when preparing them for preservation copying.
site ©2001 Steven Smolian. Rev 2