Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic recording, made of a thin magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic film. It was developed in Germany, based on magnetic wire recording. Devices that record and play back audio and video using magnetic tape are tape recorders and video tape recorders. A device that stores computer data on magnetic tape is a tape drive (tape unit, streamer).

Magnetic tape revolutionized broadcast and recording. When all radio was live, it allowed programming to be prerecorded. At a time when gramophone records were recorded in one take, it allowed recordings to be made in multiple parts, which were then mixed and edited with tolerable loss in quality. It is a key technology in early computer development, allowing unparalleled amounts of data to be mechanically created, stored for long periods, and to be rapidly accessed.