If you are a child of the 70s and 80s, nothing brings on the nostalgia like a cassette tape. I remember spending many an afternoon playing around with a double-deck tape recorder. I still have a few of those cassette tapes, even one from when I was three. It contains home recordings of my sisters and me singing and a couple of make-believe “radio-show” sessions.
What was great about that particular tape is my family kept adding to it as we girls grew older, starting from just three years of age to teenagers. Playing that tape is like a trip in a time machine as fragile as the memories it contains.
A Bit of Tape
Remember when the 1//8“ magnetic tape would warp, twist, or break? No problem! A tiny screwdriver, scissors, and some sticky tape were all it took to put it back together. Even with the tiny glitch the sticky tape produced, it was a proud moment to have salvaged a favorite cassette.
Even more than a professionally recorded album was the magic mix-tape. Nothing was treasured like all your favorite songs together in one custom cassette, especially if it was a gift from a special friend or bestie! So who came up with this magnetic idea? (See what I did there?)
The development of music recording is also a history of technological advancement. Before this, live music was the only option available. The first recordings on vinyl and reel to reel, and Lou Ottens’ cassette invented in 1962, began to change the music industry.
With the birth of the inexpensive cassette tape, the man-on-the-street musician no longer needed a massive studio to lay down some tracks. Instead, anyone could drop a “demo” in their hotel room or basement. Some of the greatest music icons started off recording their ideas on tape. One of the coolest demos to hear is Michael Jackson’s completely acapella demo of “Beat it.”
The thing about technology is it’s constantly advancing. So as quickly as it became popular, the delicate cassette was replaced by the sturdier compact discs or CDs.
Today, we can download the music we want with the click of a mouse. The digital wave has left the humble cassette tape gutted in its wake. Still, the novelty of taking your music to the streets with a portable player clipped to your hip will forever hold a special place in heart and history.
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