The cassettes that the older among us have the good fortune to remember and the younger generation may not even recognize were one of the first “technologies” that allowed music to be shared with a much wider audience. They may now be considered retro to vintage items of a bygone era, but this invention was the one that triggered some of today’s most advanced “technologies”. So, respect for that.
The first cassette was introduced to the European public in 1963 by Phillips in Belgium and in 1964 it traveled to America. Until then, music was limited mainly to vinyl records, which of course had their own charm but also a major drawback: music was piled only where the record player was. The most revolutionary element, however, that made the cassette quickly popular, especially among the masses, was that it allowed anyone to record their favorite tracks on their own. This resulted in the creation of infinite cassette tapes, then known as “mixtapes”. It took time to make a “mixtape” and it soon became the most romantic gesture to the other half or even to a friend. After all, there was still no option to “add to playlist” and the effort required to make such a “mixtape”, along with the time required to record all the tracks, made such a gift invaluable.
And then came the Walkman, and music is for the first time portable. You no longer had to be at home or even in the car to listen to your favorite tape. You could always have it with you, packaged in small, plastic cases to enjoy it even while walking on the street.
Who of us has not recorded radio songs on cassettes? Who of us did not get annoyed when the radio producer decided to speak right in the middle of the song, messing our recording? Who of us did not absolutely love the sound of the tape as it went back to the beginning? And who of us has not put a pen in one of the holes to rewind it a little faster?
For these and many more reasons, the cassette will always bring about nostalgia, with its analog sound, the light “noise” and all the other sounds that accompany a cassette player and take us back to a more romantic era for music.
And here are some things not everyone knows about cassettes:
Cassettes were originally made for dictation, not for music.
During their heyday (about 25 years), more than 3 billion cassettes were sold.
The life span of a cassette’s magnetic tape ranges from 10 to 30 years.
SFX Cassette was the only music magazine to be released exclusively on cassettes and never in print.