In the 1940s, a popular audio recording medium was metal wire. Hair-thin wires on spools performed like super-skinny reel-to-reel tape—before tape existed. Wire recorders became popular overnight, but faded out just as quickly. What happened?

In this deep dive, YouTuber Techmoan digs into the history of the wire recorder—with one brief interruption for a period-appropriate cigarette ad. If you're curious about WWII-era recording tech, check this out:

If you'd like to read more on wire recorders, check out this nine-part history.