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The compact cassette tape turns 50

Dust off your Walkmans, grab your nearest number two pencil and light the birthday candles. The cassette tape turns 50.

Dutch electronics and technology company Philips invented and introduced the cassette tape to the world Sept. 13, 1963. Though cassettes were originally used for dictation, not high-quality music, it took the place of 8-track tapes.

It was similar to its predecessor, but smaller and more hip. Just looking at one invokes the feeling of misty-eyed nostalgia, but others don’t quite see it that way. (Via BBC)

A writer for SlashGear says, “I doubt anyone really misses that technology, anyone who grew up in the 80s probably spent a fair bit of their childhood trying to fix tape snarls using a pencil or a finger to slowly coil the black tape back inside the cassette cartridge.” 

CNN writes “the medium was plagued by audio inconsistencies, drop-outs.” Even Dale Wiggins, U.S. research head for Philips remarked, “My memory says it wasn’t all that great.”

But who could imagine a world without cassette tapes?

As a writer for Time so eloquently puts it, “What now seems like a relic was a revolution…”

According to one genius at Engadget, the cassette was the harbinger for portable music. Without them, we wouldn’t have field recorders, or boomboxes, or CD players, or mp3 players, or, oh my goodness, MIXTAPES! Seriously, what would your childhood have been without a mixtape!? (Via Kickstarter / Zach Taylor, Seth Smoot)

A writer for A.V. Club says the tapes never really went away and have even made a vinyl-esque resurgence at house shows and small clubs.

He writes, “Much like a pin or a patch used to, cassettes put a name and face to an artist. Instead of having to remember a Bandcamp link, they serve as a way to commemorate the experience of a show. … The cassette format is just a more attractive souvenir.”

The cassette even has its own day and can be tied into a half-windsor! These Sonic Fabric Neckties are made from polyester thread and audio-cassette tape. (Via Cassette Store Day, Sonic Fabric)

So, don’t be afraid to manually rewind one of these and throw it in a tape deck for old time’s sake … if you can find one. 

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