Pictured to the right, under the old (and still operating) telephone, sits an "Elcassette" deck, a technology introduced in the 1970's in an attempt to combine the convenience of cassette tape with the high fidelity of reel-to-reel decks. It uses large cassettes (approximately the size of a VHS cassette) which enclose 1/4" wide recording medium (a standard cassette uses 1/8" wide tape, with four tracks--two stereo tracks in each direction--fitting onto that narrow width). The tape moved across the heads at twice the speed of a standard cassette, further adding to the improvement in quality.
During operation, the tape in the Elcassette cartridge is drawn out of the plastic housing and held against the record and playback heads by a precise mechanical assembly. This provides a way to keep the tape accurately aligned with the heads, eliminating a major problem with traditional cassettes, where tape to head contact relies on small plastic parts and springs within the often poorly constructed cassette shell.
The deck pictured is a "flagship" model by Technics (back then, still logoed as "Technics by Panasonic") which incorporates two rack-mountable cabinets, one to house the audio electronics and the other for the mechanics of the transport mechanism.
The system did indeed have excellent sound quality, but the format never took wing. Somewhere in the house are scads of blank and recorded Elcassette media tapes, and possibly even one or two more identical Elcassette machines still in their boxes.
But I digress...