Thursday

Remember This? The Audio Cassette Tape

Back in the day, a cool home stereo might have a reel-to-reel tape deck as well as a record player. Tapes, though capable of high quality sound, were a bit fiddly and not particularly portable. 8-track tapes started a movement of tape media enclosed in a cartridge, and while they were quite successful as an automobile accessory, the sound quality could be poor and the mechanics could be problematic.

Enter the Compact Cassette, a format introduced by Philips in Europe in 1963, and the next year in the US under the Norelco brand. After some rough patches, improvements in tape technology and the implementation of Dolby noise reduction led to great popularity, culminating perhaps in that definitive 80's personal music machine, the Sony Walkman. The versatile compact cassette could also be used as a component in home stereo systems, as an early computer storage device, and even as an alternative to a traditional 4-track tape deck that could be used by budding musicians to make demo tapes. In those applications, the cassette would run at twice normal speed, to allow even better sound reproduction.


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