The Sony Betacart was quite brilliant and reliable day in day out.I always found the RCA TCR100 mentioned by deejay to be reliable and the Ampex ACR25 too but not everyone did and some companies would not use them on-air for commercials.
The ACR25 - happy memories of working with that beast of a machine. Not extensively used at my site, as we didn't have Presentation/Comms. We did, however, use the ACR to play out items on the Late News (clipped up bits from the 18:00 PasB recording on 1").
I've been through the range of compiling inserts onto an A/B roll 1" setup - which takes a bit of planning to make sure the right inserts are on the right tape. You could either type timecodes in to cue tapes, or use 3 memories per machine.
Also used to play News inserts in from Umatic and Betacam, which as has been mentioned meant making piles of the appropriate tapes by each playback machine, ideally checking the tape is more or less cued beforehand to save time. Betacam (std) and Umatic generally rolled from a 5" clock, so a Director would have to mark up a script approx 15 words back to roll a tape.
Also there for the introduction of Betacarts, initially typing a playlist of tape IDs in, and later on playlists remotely loaded from ENPS
"]BASYS/iNews. Generally reliable, though lots of mechanical bits to go wrong in the tape elevator/robotics. Took about 45" to recue a playlist - not bad going to change tapes in 4 machines. Tapes could be grabbed and played in from stand-alone decks if the cart machine died, or manually scanned and fed into the side-loading VTR decks if just the elevator had jammed. Very flexible, really. (And the system could be run with the door open if you stuck a biro into the safety lockout detector hole)
These days, it's all server playout - running orders can be reloaded in a couple of seconds, but Playout software can crash as you go on-air.