Before recordable CDs became a thing (they told us the technology would never happen on a consumer level because it was just tooooo complicated and waaaaaaay too expensive; blank discs went for $40 each), the only digital option for recording was tape. Sony introduced Digital Audio Tape (DAT) in 1987, which was quickly set upon my the music industry, declaring to the the Devil’s favourite piracy tool. Lagging slightly behind was Philips’ solution: the Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) in 1993.
DCC tapes looked exactly like regular cassettes except that instead of analogue patterns, the tape held binary code. No hiss, no rumble, no noise. And what about your old cassettes? No problem. DCC machines could play those back with no issue.
For those who don’t remember DCC’s brief flash of light, let’s go to the videotape.
Read about how DCC worked (and why it didn’t) at Ars Technica.