In 1953, around the same time as EMI began selling Long Playing records (LPs), they also started to release pre-recorded open-reel tapes. These did not always contain the same sequences of tracks as the nearest vinyl counterparts and received completely separate catalogue numbers. The tapes were housed in sturdy fabric-backed card boxes to begin with, and the tape stock itself was a mixture of Philips and BASF. It wasn't until the late 1950s that EMITAPE began to be used. It is thought that these early copies were duplicated by Philips as had happened with early compact cassettes.
For releases that were a tape version of a concurrently-released vinyl record, EMI referred to these as a "Tape Record".
These tapes were all recorded at 7.5 i.p.s. which was only half of the professional standard of 15 i.p.s. that was used in the studio at the time. This speed was considered "semi-pro" as befitted the target audience for these tapes which were expected to have high standards.
Some titles however were not directly correlated to a vinyl record release, and in these cases the phrase "Tape Record" was replaced with the subtly different
These could be compiled from any combination of various tracks from adjacent albums and/or tracks from the artist's contemporary singles or EPs.
The style of box shown on the left appears to date from sometime in 1957 and is one-piece cardboard printed to the edges, unlike the earlier package style which used a paste-on "slick" label affixed to the plain fabric backing of the box itself.
Each box contained the tape spool itself in a clear polythene bag and a sleeve-note leaflet. All were in a very standard style, hardly ever with any illustrations, mostly being text-only apart from the company logo.
The inside of the box front contained directions (instructions) for the proper use, handling and storage of the tapes.
As bizarre as it may seem today, stereo recordings were first made commercially available on tape, not on vinyl.
Stereo LPs (and EPs) were still three years away when in 1955, EMI introduced the Stereosonic series of stereo tapes.
Thought to be sometime in 1957, as with EMI's mono tapes, the box styles were modified.