Friday, July 23, 2010

History of the Cassette Tape Recorder

In today's digital world, it's pretty easy to forget that cassete tapes were the most popular media for listening music back in the 1950s to the 1980s whereas in the late 1980s the explosion of digital audio formats started the end for cassete tapes.


Portable recording machines have existed since the 1930s but did not become more popular until the post-World War II era, when prosperity began to arise and create a booming of new consumer-goods product equipped with latest technology. In 1962, Philips Company of the Netherlands invented and released the first compact audio-cassette. They used high-quality polyester 1/8-inch tape produced by BASF. Recording and playback was at a speed of 1.7/8 inches per second. The next year in the U.S. sales began of the Norelco Carry-Corder dictation machine that used the new cassette tape. The consumer's demand for blank tape used for personal music-recording was unanticipated by Philips.

Peak of Popularity
During the 1970s and 1980s cassette tape recorders reached their peak of popularity as electronics giants such as Toshiba, Sony, RCA, and SANYO competed to win the battle of cassette tape recorders using various refinements, such as compact quadraphonic tape recorders. The last boom of the cassete tape recorders occurred in 1979, with the introduction of the very popular Tascam Portastudio. Empowered with the four and eight-track machines made by Tascam and its main competitor, Fostex, any musicians could make high quality recordings without using such an expensive studio.

1987 is the declining point of the cassette tape recorders, as the introduction of digital audio tape. in 1990s, home computers with hard drives (as well as floppy discs and CD-ROM drive) made the cassete tape recorders obsolete. The Compact Disc, which had been introduced in 1982, finally became inexpensive enough to compete with cassette tape, thus ending the glory of cassette tape recorders.