- freely available
Heritage 2019, 2(2), 1551-1587; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage2020097
- Original formulations were and are considered trade secrets
- Audio tapes are rarely marked on the tape as to manufacturer and type
- Audio tapes often are placed in different boxes than they came in
- There were running changes during production
- There were process control variations
- There were different storage conditions
Benoît Thiébaut, in his presentation to the 2005 AMIA conference, indicated that he had found a range of video cassettes with the same type designation comprised of four clearly different chemical formulations . In discussing this result with Bob Perry5, he stated that one would never see this much variation in a particular type number during the time he was at Ampex (1969–1992). Scotch/3M was open about the variations in type 1116. Bradshaw indicated7 that aging could possibly create some of the differences found by Thiébaut and that additional analysis would be beneficial. He also indicated the potential for seasonal changes and the difficulties of moving a successful tape line from one climatic location to another. Outsourcing further complicates this analysis, as the box may have one brand on it and the tape may have been manufactured at another facility.
1.3. Related Fields
1.3.1. Data Tape
1.3.2. Instrumentation Tape
1.3.3. Video Tape
1.3.4. Logging Tape
1.3.5. Beyond Reels
2. Composition of Magnetic Tapes for Audio Data Storage
3. Tape Degradation Problems
- Chemical nature of materials in the tape
- Manufacturing defects
- Temperature and humidity conditions over the life of the tape
- Exposure to liquids, dust, debris, or corrosive gases
- Handling history including frequent access or playback without proper conditioning or on defective equipment
- Exposure to strong magnetic fields
3.1. (i) Base Film Degradation
- Acetate tapes, degrade overall by chemical decomposition with formation of acetic acid (vinegar syndrome) promoted by high temperature and humidity, but catalyzed by iron oxide. Acetic acid is able to break the bonds between the polymeric chain, thus the material becomes brittle and shrinkage is observed [3,71,72]. Consequently, the binder containing the magnetic particles separates. In addition, the components of the emulsion can separate and crystalline deposits or liquid-filled bubbles can appear. Heating is especially damaging to acetate tapes, too . The thermal behavior of cellulose acetate was studied: the thermal degradation started with acetic acid formation followed by dehydration. The acid formed catalyzes the further degradation and the FTIR spectra showed that at the original absorptions at 1725 (>C=O stretching), 1375 (C–H deformation) and 1250 (–C–O– stretching) cm decreased and a new band at 1580 cm (−C=C−) appeared, indicating the complete removal of the ester groups at . Acetate tapes should be considered unstable and at high priority for copying.
- PVC: The main way of degradation consists in the elimination of HCl with the formation of double bonds, which in turn can be oxidized to –C=O or –C–OH moieties, in the presence of oxygen and humidity. The polymer undergoes chain scission leading to a gradual deterioration of mechanical properties and chemical resistance. The entity of the HCl loss is depending on the presence of defects in the polymer structure (such as branching or allylic and tertiary labile chlorines).
- PET: Although the thermal stability is high, its sensitivity to humidity and the presence of trace metal ions play a significant role in the rate of degradation . Thermal degradation can occur during processing into film or molded products (at 200–300 ): it can start with a random breaking of the in-chain ester linkage, with formation of vinyl ester and carboxylic end groups. The transesterification of vinyl esters produces vinyl alcohol and acetaldehyde. Extraction of hydrogen can also occur promoted by metal traces giving rise to macroradicals from which hydroperoxides can be formed by reaction with oxygen with further breakdown of the polymer. In fact, even if PET is essentially a hydrophobic polymer, the ester functionality is known to undergo significant hydrolysis in moist, wet or humid conditions; under basic conditions; under UV light; or at temperature above glass transition temperature, resulting in an increase of carboxyl end groups and reduction in the molecular weight . It is assumed that water diffuses into the amorphous region of the polymer where hydrolysis occurs at a rate which depends upon the shape, morphology, degree of crystallinity, relative humidity, and temperature. Experiments concerning the heat and moisture diffusion in magnetic tape packs indicated that they can be described by the heat diffusion equation for a hollow cylinder and thermal and moisture diffusivity coefficients have been shown to be anisotropic and significantly higher in the axial direction compared with the radial one .The evolution of molecular orientation and microstructure during and following the deformation of amorphous PET above and below Tg was deeply investigated by URS-FTIR spectroscopy and PM-IRLD, furnishing interesting data concerning the modifications of thin films under stress .
3.2. (ii) Binder Degradation
3.3. (iii) Stability of Magnetic Material
4. Analytical Methods to Characterize the Tapes Components and to Study the Degraded Tapes
6. Preservation, Handling, Storage
- Tapes must be wound end-to-end, onto a rigid hub, before being put into storage to avoid pack tension distortions.
- Any residue from degradation should be removed as long as there is no further damage to the tape.
- A current outline of storage recommendations for tape can be found in  (Section 3.3). There are some caveats to consider when analyzing these limits and this is an area of further research as film historians are freezing film to preserve it longer.
- It is likely that tapes coated on an acetate base film do not perform as well at the lower range of the recommended RH.
- The “do not freeze” warning about tape came from concerns over early tapes that used a variety of naturally occurring lubricants, often extracted from marine creatures. What is interesting is that some sample lubricants that Hess has in his possession appear to congeal below about , thus these would be congealed at the minimum recommended temperature of recommended in .
- The above two sub-points suggest further research.
Conflicts of Interest
|AES||Audio Engineering Society (New York, NY, USA)|
|ATR FTIR||Attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy|
|ESEM||Environmental scanning electron microscopy|
|FT-IR||Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy|
|GC MS||Gas chromatography mass spectrometry|
|IASA||International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)|
|NAB||National Association of Broadcasters (Washington, DC, USA)|
|NMR||Nuclear magnetic resonance|
|PEN||Polyethylene naphthalate (used as a base film)|
|PE-PU||Polyester polyurethane (used as a binder)|
|PET||Polyethylene terephthalate (common base film)|
|PM-IRLD||polarization modulation infrared linear dichroism|
|PVC||Polyvinyl chloride (historic base film)|
|SEM||Scanning electron microscopy|
|SIMS||Secondary ion mass spectrometry|
|SMPTE||Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (White Plains, NY, USA)|
|SPME||Solid phase micro extraction|
|Tg||Glass transition temperature|
|UHV||Ultra high vacuum|
|URS-FTIR||Ultra-rapid scanning spectroscopy|
|VOC||Volatile organic compounds|
|XRD||X-ray powder diffraction|
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Hess, R.L. “-Degrading Tapes”, 2018. Link: http://bit.ly/DegradingTapes (last visited 24 April 2019). Other resources for basic restoration information include: [a] Copeland, A., “Manual of Analogue Sound Restoration Techniques”, The British Library, 2008. Full text available online: http://bit.ly/copland2008 (last visited 24 April 2019); [b] IASA 2014-2017, https://www.iasa-web.org/iasa-special-and-technical-publications (last visited 24 April 2019); [c] Marques 2014, https://www.loc.gov/folklife/sos/preserve1.html (last visited 24 April 2019).
For an overview of Agfa, BASF, and IG Farben’s tapes production, see: http://bit.ly/locHeritage (last visited 24 April 2019). Some of this history is discussed in: Engel F. and Hammar, P., “A Selected History of Magnetic Recording” additional editing by Hess R.L. in 2006. Full text available online: http://bit.ly/engels2006 (last visited 26 April 2019).
For an overview of 3M’s tape manufacturing history, see: http://www.aes.org/aeshc/docs/3mtape/aorprod-si.pdf (last visited 25 April 2019).
Personal communication with Bob Perry, former Director of Advanced Development in the Magnetic Tape Division of Ampex Corporation, 29 July 2006.
Further confirmation of running changes can be found in the online copies of the Scotch/3M Sound Talk publications, numbers 13-20-21-22. Available online: http://www.aes.org/aeshc/docs/3mtape/soundtalkindex.html (last visited 24 April 2019).
Personal communication with Dr. Richard Bradshaw, Tape Development, IBM Tucson, AZ, USA, 31 July 2006. Note that Bradshaw was the person who finally was able to safely unspool the Challenger tape after it was recovered from the ocean floor. He also led the team developing the IBM 3480 and 3490 data tapes, which have (so far) an enviable record of longevity and stability.
This is the actual 1965 NAB standard that includes the physical details of the NAB hub: http://bit.ly/nabHess (last visited on 27 April 2019).
See article published on Reuters: Fox, M., “Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits,” 16 July 2009. Full text online: http://bit.ly/eraseMoon (last visited 24 April 2019).
See Tim Stoffel’s webpage “Museum of Broadcast Technology” on Quadruplex Park Videotape Formats: http://www.lionlamb.us/quadpark.html (last visited on 25 April 2019).
Website of the Indiana University’s Media Digitization & Preservation Initiative: https://mdpi.iu.edu/ (last visited on 24 April 2019).
The use of polyurethane appears to be the primary direction tape manufacturing went around the time this patent was issued, i.e., the mid-1970s.
Oe = Oersted; unit of magnetic field strength in CGS system. 1 Oe = (1000/)(A/m). In vacuum, if the magnetic field strength H is 1 Oe, the magnetic field density B is 1 Gauss. In a medium having permeability , B(Gauss) = −H(Oe).
Dew Point Calculator: http://www.dpcalc.org/ (last visited on 18 May 2019).
Online resource: “Field Strength for Partial Erasure of Magnetic Tape” derived from a report by Jay McKnight for Scully/Metrotech Div. of Dictaphone Corp. 29 October 1973. Link: http://www.mrltapes.com/field-strength-for-partial-erasure.pdf (last visited on 26 April 2019).
Online article: Morgan, S., Product life cycle of cassette tapes: http://www.avmediaplace.net/files/46347804.pdf (last visited on 26 April 2019).
Cinko, G.R., “TGA study of thermal degradation of plastic films”: http://bit.ly/giselaTapes (last visited on 26 April 2019).
See slides “Magnetic Forensics” presented by David Pappas of the National Institute of Standards & Technology at the THIC Meeting at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in 2006: http://www.thic.org/pdf/July06/nist.dpappas.060718.pdf (last visited on 25 April 2019).
Online resource: “Wet playing of reel tapes with Loss of Lubricant–A guest article by Marie O’Connell”, http://bit.ly/wetPlaying (last visited on 27 April 2019).
Personal communication to one of the authors on 3 February 2006.
See “Preservation Recording, Copying, and Storage Guidelines for Audio Tape Collections” published by Lyrasis in 2008: https://www.lyrasis.org/services/Documents/AudioTape-Guidelines.pdf (last visited on 25 April 2019).
|Lauric acid |
(melting point )
|Myristic acid |
(melting point )
|Palmitic acid |
(melting point )
|Stearic acid |
(melting point )
(melting point )
|Literature Assigned Segment Model||Literature Molecular Assignment (Peak Intensity)||Peak Wavenumber (cm)||Effect of Hydrolysis|
|Both||(C=O) free, (VS)||1728–1721||More intense in SSS tapes|
|Polyurethane||(C=O) hydrogen bonded, (VS)||1701–1689||Less intense in SSS tapes|
|Polyurethane||(C=C) aromatic ring, (S)||1596–1591||-|
|Polyurethane||(N–H) +(C-N), (S)||1529–1522||Amide peak: no change between SSS and non-SSS tapes|
|Polyurethane||(C–C) phenyl ring, (S)||1413–1409||-|
|Polyester||w(CH2), (W)||1373–1356||More intense in SSS tapes|
|Polyurethane||(N–H) +(C–N), (S)||1311–1305||Amide peak: no change between SSS and non-SSS tapes|
|Polyester||(C–O–C), w(CH2), (W-M)||1257–1249||Present in most SSS tapes (new C–O bonds)|
|Polyurethane||(N–H) +(C–N), (S)||1220–1213||Amide peak: no change between SSS and non-SSS tapes|
|Both||(C=O) +(O−CH2), (M)||1141–1134||Present in most SSS tapes (new O–CH2 moieties)|
|Both||(C–O–C), (S)||1073–1060||More intense in SSS tapes|
|Both||(Aryl–O), (M–S)||1020–1015||More intense in SSS tapes|
|Mineral Name||Goethite -FeOOH||Lepidocrocite -FeOOH||Hematite -Fe2O3||Magnetite Fe3O4||Maghemite -Fe2O3|
|Infrared bands (cm)||1667, 1399, 1260, 881, 793, 608||1625, 1152, 1017, 737||535, 464, 308||570, 390||730, 696, 636, 590, 570|
|Raman lines (cm)||243, 299, 385, 479, 550, 685, 993||220, 250, 309, 350, 377, 527, 648||225, 498, 247||300, 532, 661||350, 500, 700|
|Mineral Name||Goethite -FeOOH||Lepidocrocite -FeOOH||Hematite -Fe2O3||Magnetite Fe3O4||Maghemite -Fe2O3|
|a = 0.9956|
b = 0.30215
c = 0.4608
|a = 0.307|
b = 1.253
c = 0.388
|a = 0.50356(1)|
c = 1.37489(7)
|a = 0.8396||a = 0.83474l|
|Cell dimension (nm)||orthorhombic||orthorhombic||rhombohedral hexagonal||cubic||cubic or tetragonal|
|Formula units, per cell||4||4||6||8||8|
|Type of magnetism||antiferromag.||antiferromag.||weakly ferromag. or antiferromag.||ferrimag.||ferrimag.|
|Neel temperature ()||400||77||(956)⋆||(850)⋆||(820-986)⋆|
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