Defining a generation: The audio cassette turns 50 today

By Shawn Knight · 24 replies
Sep 13, 2013
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  1. The audio cassette is now officially “over the hill” as it was 50 years ago today when the format launched at Philips' headquarters in Amsterdam. Originally designed to replace reel-to-reel tape for dictation, the audio cassette ultimately became a household...

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  2. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,867   +1,286

    I recently put an aftermarket radio in my car and am kind of sad that I no longer have a cassette player. I never liked CDs and own a grand total of three music discs. Fortunately, BlueTooth and USB are pretty much standard features now.
  3. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,660   +1,948

    Missing the days of glueing a chewed up tape together. Trying to chew on a CD or USB stick isn't as much fun.

    Somebody make a new 8-track, self-playing, with WiFi-AC in it, so you can listen to it remotely without chewing anything! I'm just your average genius...
    Wendig0 likes this.
  4. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    I still have a couple of cases of cassette's stashed in my closet somewhere. A lot of it pretty rare stuff (bought overseas when I was in the military). I should take the time to dig it out and get them converted.
  5. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,372   +69

    They don't officially make cassette players anymore. My brother usually bought the vinyl album, the 8 track, the cassette, the cd of the same thing, altho has not gotten into mp3s and never listens to any of his recordings. He may have over a thousand albums (not just songs). He usually listens to youtube on laptop speakers. Sounds like a joke, but that is reality.
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    At the end of its useful life, a cassette recorder could acquit itself admirably as a medium for copying from vinyl records.

    While the prerecorded tape quality of cassettes was garbage, using chrome or metal tape in a better deck, yielded recordings difficult to tell from the source, and quite likely, better than some of the studio recorders used on your favorite, "golden oldies".

    In the late 70's, I had a 4 channel Teac reel to reel, which needed an outboard Dolby NR unit to sound anywhere near as good as cassette, while eating tape at 4 times the speed.

    For true audiophiles, the cassette deck probably died in the early to mid 90's, when freestanding audio CD recorders (*) were routinely available.

    (*) And computers, obviously.

    Bruce Springsteen's "The River" was one of the first big name artist's album to be mastered on digital audio tape. Those pioneering efforts could be shrill, tinny, and nasty, which "The River" surely was.
  7. Jad Chaar

    Jad Chaar Elite Techno Geek Posts: 6,515   +974

    As much as I love CDs, Cassettes are still awesome.
  8. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,472   +126

    TDK one pictured cost me $20 bucks those were made with aluminum shells. Metal was the way to go back then. Chrome was okay some TDK high end ones were good. SONY PRO were really good. I don't have my Pioneer Dual AutoReverse Deck with me left it behind.

    Did a lot of tape mixes back in the day.. In the end they served me well the Cassettes.. Today it's SDHC and CD, iPod 16GB Nano in the my SUV Alpine Media Touch Player with voice commands.
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    I think the RIAA should make your brother their poster child, or at the very least, send him a Christmas card. How about you?
    tonylukac likes this.
  10. free4rm

    free4rm TS Rookie Posts: 19

    I remember those days when the tape would get chewed up in the rollers and break. Scotch tape was my fix, trimming it on the sides. I still have a crate of cassettes and a player so that I can still to them.
  11. free4rm

    free4rm TS Rookie Posts: 19

    Listen to them, oops!
  12. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    They were great at the time because that's all we knew back then. It was cutting edge stuff, especially the chrome & metal tapes but you had to have a suitable player to enjoy them to their fullest. I still have my cassette players & a whole collection of tapes. I used to spend hours recording songs from the radio & vinyl.
    I wonder if I can still be held accountable for piracy...
    Wendig0 likes this.
  13. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    Since you've already admitted guilt, it's a little late to be thinking about that now, wouldn't you say?:oops:

    I can show you what the RIAA gestapo thinks: Pretty scary stuff huh?:eek:

    And BTW, copyright entitlement has been extended to 75 years!!!
  14. For children^

    But what about when you own ur own place and want to "listen" to music..? What do you do then..?
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    I can't help but think you're about to tell us....

    Myself, I do own my own sound controlled "place". So, I pretty much do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it.
  16. dennis777

    dennis777 TS Enthusiast Posts: 285   +33

    Pencil + cassette tape = Perfect match :p
  17. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    I got a taste of old age when I tried to buy a portable cassette recorder 5 or 6 years ago and couldn't find one. Then I realized that my huge collection of cassettes created after endless hours of selective recording, was thereafter destined to lifetime confinement in a cupboard shelf...along with my equally valued vinyl record collection, which suffered similar fate about a decade earlier.

    My hope now is that my newly (re)created MP3 music collection will last as long as I do.
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    Actually, last time I checked, USB turntables were available, along with phono cartridges.

    Vinyl records are making a comeback, selling at a premium.

    A quick search of J&R Audio in NYC, netted 32 results...:

    I have a low mileage, one owner Technics SL-1400 Quartz lock TT. (Circa 1975(?)) Bought a Shure M95-ED for it. (They've discontinued the V15 Type III).

    So, if you still have the records, no need to pout
  19. Emexrulsier

    Emexrulsier TS Evangelist Posts: 574   +71

    Still got a sony deck up in the attic with cassette player and halve a dozen cassettes. Never ever gunna use em cause compared to modern digitial stuff it is proper cack!
  20. I was so glad to see the TAPE go .. and welcomed CD's ... because I loved the instant gratification of skipping a terrible song!
  21. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,516

    If you record mix tapes, doesn't that accomplish the same thing? Unless of course, you record horrible songs in the mix.

    Myself, I get into CDs because of the 90+Db signal to noise ratio, and dynamic range.
  22. Railman

    Railman TS Booster Posts: 708   +101

    I used to have a small computer device which you could program simple basic programs. The back up was to cassette tape.
  23. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    Something else worth mentioning is that the cassette provided a convenient, low cost form of present. When I was invited at a friend's house for a drink or snack and didn't want to go empty handed, I'd record music of his liking on a cassette from my vinyl records. I'd then stamp it with the impressive sounding:
    and could see the glow in his eyes as he received it. And all at the cost of a blank cassette.
  24. They did their job but what a pain in the neck they were really. Compared with digital data mediums they are dinosaurs fading into the dust of time. Same with vinyl. After the glow of nostalgia has subsided the reality is so clear. You just can't beat the CD and newer systems of digital storage.
  25. Xtreme gamer

    Xtreme gamer TS Enthusiast Posts: 54   +13

    +1 agree ^
    Initial nostalgia glow.... Then frustration and time wasted.

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