100 Years of Magnetic Memories; November 1998; Scientific American Magazine; by Livingston; 6 Page(s)
Magnets store much of the world¿s information: data on computer disks, entertainment on video and audiotapes, messages on telephone answering machines and account information on the coated stripes of ATM and credit cards. All these different media preserve words, numbers, images and sounds as invisible patterns of north and south poles. The technology is magnetic recording, which celebrates its centennial this year.
In recent decades magnetic memories have had a profound influence on society. In the 1970s the Watergate tapes from the Oval Office provided the "smoking gun" that forced President Richard Nixon to resign. This year audiotapes that disclosed an improper relationship between President Bill Clinton and a former White House intern led to another executive scandal.