Tape Recorders can record and play back audio or other data stored on a tape. Compact cassette tapes were popularized in the late 1970s as a way to play music, culminating in the formerly ubiquitous Walkman. Early computer systems used tapes and tape recorders for data storage and retrieval.
Tape recorders are used in games primarily as a story telling method where unseen actors can relay information to the player without being present. Bioshock popularized the story telling technique of leaving audio logs around the ruined game world to give context on how things got to their current state.