The first recordings on magnetic tape weren’t done on tape at all; they were done on magnetized rolls of wire. By the end of the 1920s, the technology had evolved to using tape–but the tape was made of steel.
It worked reasonably well, but the tape came on reels that were two feet wide and could only hold 50 minutes’ worth of material. And to make things even more interesting, the machines ran at 1.5 metres per second. Can you imagine having to work on a tape machine with a thin strand of tape running past you at that speed?
No wonder they had cages built around them. And yes, you could edit this tape, but you needed a soldering gun and a welding torch.
More on the history of audio tape next time.