Yes, at one point in time, computers actually stored data on magnetic tape instead of hard drives. And you thought 3.5 inch floppy disks were old tech!
These are tapes for the SDS Sigma 7 computer used by the UCLA Boelter 3420 lab, the birthplace of the Internet. The Sigma-7 used the Interface Message Processor to transmit messages (we call them "packets" today) to other IMPs and systems connected to the ARPANET. UCLA's Sigma-7 and IMP form the first node to ever be connected to the ARPANET, which would become the Internet that we all know and love today.
The very first message ever sent on the Internet was sent from this very room on 29 October 1969 at 22:30 Pacific Time to the Stanford Research Institute, promptly crashing the computer on Stanford's end.
I took this photo at the grand re-opening of the original Boelter 3420 lab at UCLA, the birthplace of the Internet, as the Kleinrock Internet Heritage Site and Archive, which will soon open to the public. If you'd like to learn more about the museum, click here.