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 The Rise and Fall of the Cassette - ajfdx

 The Rise and Fall of the Cassette

 The Rise and Fall of the Cassette

 

 

The compact cassette, sometimes referred to as the standard cassette or simply cassette, is a familiar sight to anyone who has grown up in the 70s and 80s, but how many of us really know where they came from? Many of us remember our  cassette tape aux  first car, floor mats lost in a shallow sea of tape singles and albums. They defined a generation, in the same way that the MP3 and other digital formats are defining generation Y.

Reel-to-reel recorders were one of the most prevalent ways of recording sound in the late fifties, but they weren’t practical, affordable, or portable enough for the average consumer to find useful.

Numerous companies tried to create a cartridge that could play back prerecorded sounds, until the 8-track found its market in the mid 60s. The medium was far more portable and resistant to damage than vinyl records, but suffered numerous technical and design problems that kept the eight-track from eventually dominating records in the music market.

During this time, the cassette tape was slowly refined into a medium that was not only the most durable mode of music transportation, but also small and affordable to produce. The original compact cassettes were known for having relatively low sound quality, but this improved during the seventies and eighties, when the medium began to rival the older music formats. By the late seventies it had become a rival of the vinyl record as a means of playing music, due to the fact that the cassette could be re-recorded.

The Cassette Catches On

The early recorders and players were not well suited to music, however. They were intended for dictation the same way the microcassette after it was. The late sixties saw very little in the way of music cassette tapes and it wasn’t until 1971 that high fidelity compact music cassette tapes became a viable means for distributing new music.

In the 1980s however, the cassette tape grew in popularity because of the portable Sony Walkman which was introduced in 1979. This portable tape player revolutionized the way people listened to music, and cassette sales finally overcame long playing vinyl records.

The ease with which one could record and pass on the music made the compact cassette a tool for political change. During this time western influences in Russia were marked as contraband, but the cassette made it possible for punk and rock music to reach the ears of young people and created an opportunity for the eventual end of the Cold War. Another example is the dissemination of political propaganda in audio cassette form by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran before the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

 

 

 

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