Before Tom Cruise starred in Mission: Impossible movies, the name belonged to a TV series that featured the exploding messages, albeit usually on tape recorders.
YouTube channel Techmoan has taken it upon itself to go over the various real life tape recorders that got airtime in this show, demonstrating how they look when not dressed up for television.
To spoil it a bit: the doors of the recorders were usually removed so the tapes inside could be seen playing. The “self-destruct” was usually accomplished with a smoke machine that was piped into the tape recorder by drilling a hole into the table it was on, or other sneakier methods like concealing it with a tube of paint.
We’re sure nowadays, especially for expensive productions, they do actually set the messages alight, but those were simpler, cheaper times.
Even if you don’t have a particular interest in retro tech, it’s a facilitating look at the real machinery behind a fictional show, and it also delves into some of the challenges of putting the series together, and a few of the mistakes the prop department made in the production.
Techmoan does list this as “Ep.1” so we may see future videos looking into more of the franchise and the other ways messages are delivered and then destroyed.
Finally, if all of this has got you excited to watch Mission Impossible, we can’t recommend Mission: Impossible – Fallout enough. It may have become a bit of a joke because of the whole arm reloading / disappearing moustache thing, but it’s a genuinely exciting movie that’s available for home streaming now and should be on DVD / Blu-ray in December.