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The Cassette Tape Celebrates Its 50th Birthday

by Shane McGlaun

If you grew up in the 80s, I guarantee you had a massive collection of cassette tapes. It wasn’t until the late 80s and early 90s that CDs really caught on and even then they were really expensive and many people continued to purchase cassette tapes.


I have not-so-fond memories of repeatedly fast-forwarding and rewinding trying to find the beginning of a specific song. I also spent more time than I care to remember using a pencil to rewind a cassette tape after my tape player spit out its black stringy guts. While I remember the first cassette tapes being products of my childhood, apparently they’re much older than that, with the first cassette tape being produced way back in 1963.

Philips celebrated the 50th birthday of the cassette tape this week. The company officially calls the cassette tape the “compact cassette” and says that it helped shape the music industry. Before the cassette tape there was no ability to record music or speeches on your own. Yes, there were reel-to-reel recorders, but they were generally reserved for professionals and high-end enthusiasts. The cassette tape also ushered in the era of the mix tape.

As much joy as it brought us, I don’t think anyone really misses the cassette tape. It’s infinitely more convenient to have thousands of your favorite songs in digital format stored on your iPod, which is itself smaller than a single cassette.

[via Philips]

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