Smaller Than a Pack of Cigarettes: The Cassette Tape

Getty Images: Old Audio Cassette Tapes,

Ever heard of Lou Ottens? Maybe not. But you more than likely have enjoyed using his greatest invention, the cassette tape.

The Dutch engineer invented the tape while working for Phillips in 1963, and sadly news has surfaced that he just passed away at the age of 94. We thought this was a good time to explore a bit of the history of one of our favorite audio formats, the cassette tape. Reel-to-reel audio was big and clunky. Lou’s goal was to create something small and portable, something easy to carry, to bring audio to the masses. Ottens said, “I got annoyed with the clunky, user-unfriendly reel-to-reel system.” So boom, he fixed the problem. Portable cassette tapes lead to boom boxes and tape decks in vehicles, which lead to The Walkman, which lead to compact discs, which ultimately lead to MP3s and iPods. And of course, these things lead to streaming services, making a lifetime of music available in the palm of your hand. Read the full story from here.

Did you know that cassette tapes are making a comeback? Yup, they’re considered retro, and sales were up more than 100% in the United States halfway through 2020. Wanna dive deeper into the history of audio cassettes? Check out the 2016 documentary Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape.





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