Compact Cassette Tape Recorder

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History of the Cassette Tape Recorder

History of the Period

Music At the time of The Cassette Tape Recorder


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It can be said that unlike earlier inventions the compact cassette system was designed for the car less and homeless. Reel to Reel tape players and LP players were designed like component systems for the home living room. They were large and bulky. The early talking machines were quite heavy. When the 4 and later 8 track tape systems came out they too were rather large. Tape cartridges would require a box the size of a bread basket rather than a bag or purse. The first popular use of 8track systems was in automobiles. With the explosion of the recording industry and the involvement of a younger generation of consumers the number of titles available boomed as prices went down. Consumers were less likely to be home owners or car owners and more likely to be students, teenagers and commuters in the big cities without cars. The cassette tape player could fit into a canvas bag or even large purse. The players could be carried from car into dorm room or apartment. With transistor technology these players also were able to achieve a high level of quality of sound.

The "compact cassette,"  was patented in 1964 by the Philips Company. The system used  high-quality BASF polyester 1/8-inch tape that ran at 1-7/8 ips; sold the next year in the U.S. with the Norelco Carry-Corder dictation machine.  The demand for blank tape used for personal music recording was unanticipated by Philips. This lead to recording industry concerns that their copyrights would be violated by home recording. Such concerns blocked the successful marketing of high quality personal recording tape and digital audio on cassette.  The invention was not widely known for a few years later. It was created for of convenience over reel-to-reel tape recorders. The first  cassette tape formulations were  lo-fi by today's standards. Norelco and Sony were early licensees of the patent.The  the plastic case that virtually all cassettes are sold in was known as  the "Norelco case."  Mercury was one of the first record companies to offer a selection of 26 albums on the Philips cassette at a price of $5.95 each.

It was not till 1984 that sales of cassette tapes exceeded those of LPs.

One of the most important aspects of the cassette recorder was its portability. Due to the invention of the transistor these machines could be powered by batteries and miniaturized.

At first the cassette recorder  was expensive. Soon many other manufacturers entered competition for production including Asian companies which produced cut-rate models. At the end of the 60s these machines were very popular.

Record companies tried to compete using the reel to reel tape but these were still more expensive than LPs.

Cassette technology quickly evolved from that of a toy to becoming an important part of the home stereo system.  The  Dolby B noise reduction and "metal" tape were made just for the cassette. These innovations produced a sound quality which strongly competed with that of the LP. Yet it was portable. In 1978 the Walkman tape player was introduced combining   high fidelity and portability. The "boom box"  radio/tape player combination and  the Walkman out competed the LP as the primary  form of home music technology. This had occurred by 1990.

Eventually the cassette was defeated by digital recording technology which appeared in 1990. Although digital cassette tapes were produced they were not popular and were soon overcome by CD technology.


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History of the Period

Events and trends

Computers, technology

* Bulletin board system A bulletin board system or BBS is a computer system running software that allows users to dial into the system over a phone line and perform functions such as downloading software and data, uploading data, reading news, and exchanging messages with other users. During their heyday (from the late 1970s to the early 1990s), many BBSes were run as a hobby by the "sysop" (system operator), while other BBSes charged their users money.
..... Click the link for more information. popularity
* Popularization of personal computers
* Home video games become enormously popular, most notably Atari until the market crashes in 1983; the rise of Nintendo brings about full recovery
* Space Shuttle Challenger explodes
* Accident at Chernobyl nuclear reactor, April 1986


* Discovery of the W and Z bosons at CERN
* Development of the scanning tunneling microscope by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer

War, peace and politics

* Fall of the Iron Curtain
* Solidarity movement in Poland eventually topples the country's Communist regime.
* Gorbachev introduces Glasnost and Perestroika in the Soviet Union
* Fall of the Berlin Wall in East Germany, preparing the way to German reunification
* Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia
* Revolution in Romania, execution of Ceausescu
* Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism dominate British politics.
* Falklands War Britain fights off Argentine invasion of Falkland islands in 1982
* Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988 kills one million people.
* Soviet Union ends its disastrous military campaign in Afghanistan.
* Students protest on Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China
* "People Power" in the Philippines topples the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship
* In Europe, rise of right wing parties (Le Pen in France, Schönhuber/Republikaner in Germany, Haider in Austria), parallel to a rise of Green parties.
* Political correctness
* Iran-Contra Scandal


* Reaganomics
* Largest one-day stock market drop, on October 19, 1987
* Late 1980s recession


* Rise of cable television
* Music videos (and MTV) begin to have an effect on record industry in the United States
* 24 hour television news channels (e.g., CNN)
* He-Man, the first animated children's television program built exclusively around a toyline, starts a new trend of increasing the connection between children's programming and toy advertising, alarming many parents and watchdog organizations; an explosive number of toy tie-in cartoons follow
* Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial hits theaters
* Hip hop began to achieve mainstream success in the United States, with artists like Kurtis Blow and N.W.A.; hip hop's spread outside of New York City, especially to Los Angeles, accelerates
* The Rubik's cube captures the interest of the American public, then fades to relative obscurity


* Assassination of John Lennon and Olof Palme, attempts on Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II.
* President Tito of Yugoslavia dies.
* Release of Americans held hostage in Iran
* Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini isssues a fatwa urging the killing of Salman Rushdie
* Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland
* The AIDS epidemic is identified and named

World Leaders

* Chancellor Bruno Kreisky (Austria)
* Chancellor Fred Sinowatz (Austria)
* Chancellor Franz Vranitzky (Austria)
* Prime Minister Bob Hawke (Australia)
* Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Canada)
* Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (Canada)
* Deng Xiaoping (People's Republic of China)
* President Chiang Ching-kuo (Republic of China on Taiwan)
* Erich Honecker (East Germany)
* President Anwar Sadat (Egypt)
* President Hosni Mubarak (Egypt)
* President Urho Kekkonen (Finland)
* President Mauno Koivisto (Finland)
* President François Mitterrand (France)
* Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (India)
* Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (India)
* Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (Iran)
* President Saddam Hussein (Iraq)
* Prime Minister Menachem Begin (Israel)
* Prime Minister Shimon Peres (Israel)
* Emperor Hirohito (Japan)
* Pope John Paul II
* President Patrick Hillery (Ireland)
* Taoiseach Charles Haughey (Ireland)
* Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald (Ireland)
* Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore)
* Leonid Brezhnev (Soviet Union)
* Mikhail Gorbachev (Soviet Union)
* Prime Minister Olof Palme (Sweden)
* Queen Elizabeth II (United Kingdom)
* Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (United Kingdom)
* President Jimmy Carter (United States)
* President Ronald Reagan (United States)
* Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (West Germany)
* Chancellor Helmut Kohl (West Germany)
* President Josip Broz Tito (Yugoslavia)


* Ghostbusters
* Meg Ryan
* Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
* Charlie Sheen
* Matthew Broderick
* Phoebe Cates
* Tom Cruise
* Bo Derek
* Matt Dillon
* Clint Eastwood
* Harrison Ford (as Indiana Jones)
* Jodie Foster
* Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future)
* Mel Gibson
* Batman (Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson)
* Ferris Bueller's Day Off
* Brat Pack
* Goldie Hawn
* John Hughes
* The Breakfast Club
* Pretty in Pink
* Hairspray
* Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee)
* Top Gun
* Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop)
* Sean Penn
* Sylvester Stallone ()
* Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing)
* Sigourney Weaver
* Lost Boys


* The A-Team (including Mr. T)
* Saturday Night Live
* Miami Vice
* Knight Rider
* Alf
* Three's Company
* Roseanne
* Dukes of Hazzard
* General Hospital

Sports figures

* Alexis Arguello (Nicaraguan boxer)
* Wilfred Benitez (Puerto Rican boxer)
* Larry Bird (U.S. basketball player)
* George Brett (U.S. baseball player)
* Julio Cesar Chavez (Mexican boxer)
* Roberto Duran (Panamanian boxer)
* Ric Flair (U.S. wrestler)
* Wilfredo Gómez (Puerto Rican boxer)
* Wayne Gretzky (Canadian ice hockey player)
* Florence Griffith Joyner (U.S. track and field athlete)
* Marvin Hagler (U.S. boxer)
* Thomas Hearns (U.S. boxer)
* Hulk Hogan (U.S. wrestler)
* Larry Holmes (U.S. boxer)
* Bo Jackson (U.S. American football and baseball player)
* Jahangir Khan (Pakistani squash player)
* Earvin "Magic" Johnson (U.S. basketball player)
* Michael Jordan (U.S. basketball player)
* Jarmila Kratochvílová (Czech track and field athlete)
* Greg LeMond (U.S. cyclist)
* Sugar Ray Leonard (U.S. boxer)
* Carl Lewis (U.S. track and field athlete)
* Ronnie Lott (U.S. American football player)
* Diego Maradona (Argentinian soccer player)
* John McEnroe (U.S. tennis player)
* Mark Messier (Canadian ice hockey player)
* 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team ("Miracle On Ice")
* Joe Montana (U.S. American football player)
* Martina Navratilova (Czech/U.S. tennis player)
* Jack Nicklaus (U.S. golfer)
* Michel Platini (French soccer player)
* Alain Prost (French racing driver)
* Nolan Ryan (U.S. baseball player)
* Ozzie Smith (U.S. baseball player)
* Michael Spinks (U.S. boxer)
* Lawrence Taylor (U.S. American football player)
* Isiah Thomas (U.S. basketball player)
* Daley Thompson (English track and field athlete)
* Mike Tyson (U.S. boxer)


* Compact Disc introduced, gradually replaces vinyl records.
* see hip hop, old school rap, heavy metal music, twee pop, hair metal, New Wave music, New Romantic, shoegazing, jangle pop, alternative rock, dream pop, techno, house, acid house, two-tone
* Aerosmith (Pump)
* Afrika Bambaataa (Planet Rock)
* Alabama (awarded ACM "Artists of the Decade")
* Anthrax (State of Euphoria)
* a-ha (Hunting High and Low)
* Public Enemy (It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back)
* The B-52's (The B-52's)
* Bad Religion (Suffer)
* The Bangles (All Over the Place)
* Beastie Boys (License to Ill)
* Clint Black (Killin' Time)
* Black Flag
* David Byrne (The Catherine Wheel)
* Kurtis Blow (Kurtis Blow)
* The Cars (Heartbeat City)
* Celtic Frost (Into the Pandemonium)
* Tracy Chapman (Tracy Chapman)
* The Clash (London Calling)
* Cocteau Twins (Head over Heels)
* Phil Collins (Face Value)
* De La Soul (Three Feet High and Rising)
* Def Leppard (Pyromania)
* Devo (Freedom of Choice)
* Dokken (Tooth and Nail)
* Duran Duran (Rio)
* Embrace (Embrace)
* Brian Eno & David Byrne (My Life in the Bush of Ghosts)
* Eric B. & Rakim (Follow the Leader)
* Faith No More (The Real Thing)
* Fields of the Nephilim (Dawnrazor)
* A Flock of Seagulls (A Flock of Seagulls)
* John Fogerty (Centerfield)
* Peter Gabriel (Gabriel III (melting face cover))* The Go-Go's (The Beauty and the Beat)
* Amy Grant (Straight Ahead)
* Guns n' Roses (Appetite for Destruction)
* Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (The Message)
* Hüsker Dü (Zen Arcade)
* John Cougar Mellencamp (Scarecrow)
* Menudo (Reaching Out)
* Mercyful Fate (Don't Break the Oath)
* Michael Jackson (Thriller)
* Mission UK (The First Chapter)
* The Jam (Sound Affects)
* Jane's Addiction (Nothing's Shocking)
* Jesus & Mary Chain (Pyschocandy)
* Joy Division (Closer)
* Kraftwerk (Computer World)
* Cyndi Lauper (She's So Unusual)
* k.d. lang (Shadowland)
* LL Cool J (Radio)
* Madonna (Like a Virgin)
* Bob Marley (Uprising)
* Ministry (The Land of Rape and Honey)
* Sugar Minnott (Good Thing Going)
* Mötley Crüe (Shout at the Devil)
* My Bloody Valentine (Isn't Anything)
* My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult (I See Good Spirits & I See Bad Spirits)
* Nine Inch Nails (Pretty Hate Machine)
* N.W.A. (Straight Outta Compton)
* The Offspring (The Offspring)
* Quiet Riot (Metal Health)
* Augustus Pablo (Earth's Rightful Ruler)
* Pennywise (Pennywise)
* Pixies (Doolittle)
* Poison (Open Up & Say...Ahh!)
* The Police (Synchronicity)
* The Pogues (Rum Sodomy & the Lash)
* The Pretenders (The Pretenders)
* Prince (Purple Rain)
* R.E.M. (Murmur)
* Rainbow (Down to Earth)
* Red Hot Chili Peppers (Freaky Styley)
* The Replacements (Tim)
* Rick Springfield (Working Class Dog)
* Rockin' Sidney (My Zydeco Shoes Got the Zydeco Blues)
* Run DMC (Kings of Rock)
* Sepultura (Beneath the Remains)
* Simple Minds (Once Upon a Time)
* The Sisters of Mercy (Floodland)
* Skinny Puppy ((VIVISect VI)
* Slick Rick (The Great Adventures of Slick Rick)
* The Smiths (The Queen Is Dead)
* Soft Cell (Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing)
* Sonic Youth (Daydream Nation)
* Sting (The Dream of the Blue Turtles)
* The Specials (More Specials)
* Bruce Springsteen (Born in the U.S.A.)
* Stryper (The Yellow and Black Attack)
* Talking Heads (Speaking in Tongues)
* Tina Turner (Private Dancer)
* Randy Travis (Storms of Life)
* Peter Tosh (Mama Africa)
* U2 (The Joshua Tree)
* Van Halen (Women and Children First)
* Violent Femmes (Violent Femmes)
* W.A.S.P. (F**k Like a Beast)
* Wham! (Make It Big)
* Whitesnake (Saints and Sinners)
* Yellowman (Mister Yellowman)
* Yo La Tengo (New Wave Hot Dogs)
* Dwight Yoakam (Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.)
* ZZ Topp (Afterburner)
* Various artists - C-86

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Music at the time of the Compact Cassette Recorder

Top ten of 1984 The year the Compact Cassette Recorder displaced the LP in sales.


Like a Virgin-- Madonna
When Doves Cry-- Prince
Jump-- Van Halen
Footloose-- Kenny Loggins
What’s Love Got to Do with It-- Tina Turner
Against All Odds-- Phil Collins
I Just Called to Say I Love You-- Stevie Wonder
Ghostbusters-- Ray Parker Jr.
Karma Chameleon-- Culture Club
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go-- Wham!




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-How many cds do you own?

-Given that most cassette tapes held 12 song tracks how many cassette tapes would you have to own to still own the same number of songs.

-8track tapes also held about 12 songs. How many 8 track tapes would you have to own?

-Measure the dimensions of a cassette tape and an 8 track.

-How big a box would you have to have to carry your collection if it was in 8track format?

-How big a box would you have to carry your collection if it was in cassette format?

-Ask a person who was a teenager prior to the development of the compact cassette the following questions:

1. Where did they listen to their favorite music?

2. How many records did they own?

3. Did they listen to their music more often via radio or on the recordings that they owned?





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