If you’ve ever used a Super VHS tape to record anything on TV, you know that such tapes have different modes. Most people tended to choose the long-play modes, which allowed for a maximum amount of content on a single tape in exchange for lower recording quality. As you might guess, studio recorders are focused on quality, and ADAT was a way to bring digital recording innovations within reach of musicians and studios with limited resources. SVHS tapes were of course incredibly common at the time, and each one could hold 40 minutes of multitrack audio in 16-bit quality. Each tape held eight tracks, and up to 16 ADAT machines could be synced together, allowing up to 128 tracks of audio to be played together at once.
This was the format used bu artists such as Alanis Morissette, Lisa Loeb and Wheattus.
ADAT is the ultimate transitional format—filling a gap between analog and digital at a time when the gap made a huge difference.
For more on the topic of lost formats,discusses the ABC tape machines and the memories kept on them.