August 19, 2022

The audio cassette (also audio cassette, tape cassette, more generally magnetic cassette and more particularly music cassette) is a magnetic memory device, which stores data and information in sequence on magnetic tape. It consists of two reels, enclosed in a plastic material container, which collect the magnetic tape that can be used on both sides (generally identified as side "A" and side "B") to record or reproduce sound material. A smaller version was produced, called a microcassette. Designed by Philips ai beginning of the sixties, it had great diffusion until the nineties, becoming, together with vinyl records, one of the most popular media for the distribution and listening of audio content, only to quickly fall into disuse in the early 2000s, with the spread first of the compact disc and then of liquid music.


The audio cassette was developed in 1962 by the Dutch engineer Lou Ottens and the related patent was registered in 1963 by Philips as a Compact Cassette. It originally consisted of a certain amount of magnetic tape manufactured by BASF encased in a protective plastic case. In the same years other tape cartridge systems were developed (such as the Stereo-8), but the audio cassette became established with the support of Philips called Compact Cassette and launched on the market in the same 1963. The number of tracks that could be recorded on the tape depended on the heads of the cassette player used. Mass production began in 1965 in Hanover in Germany and at the same time the record companies released albums both on vinyl record and on cassette tape, starting the sale of pre-recorded tapes. With the first monophonic models it was possible to record a track for each direction of flow by flipping the cassette in a cassette player in a similar way to what happens with vinyl records. Later they moved on to stereo with two tracks per side and there were also semi-professional models with four tracks for one side, with which to operate multitrack recordings. The diffusion of the audio cassette was enormous, due to several factors: ease of handling (it can contain a considerable amount of audio tracks in a small space), versatility (it can be used to record and play music but also other types of content, such as interviews, dictations, conferences and voice messages), ease of use (both for playback and for recording), cost-effectiveness and ease of duplication. In a short time the cassette became the preferred medium for recording music and listening to music in cars, relegating the competitor Stereo8 to a niche product. For many years, cassette and vinyl record were the only media with widespread diffusion. A further boost to the spread of the cassette came from the Walkman, a device marketed in 1979 by the Japanese multinational Sony that allowed listening to music on audio cassette anywhere through headphones. The quality of the magnetic tape has evolved over the years to meet the most varied needs: the "normal" tape was joined by the "chrome" tape, with better performance, to which "ferrochrome" and "ferrochrome" tape were later added. totally in iron, called "metal", particularly appreciated by audiophiles. The appearance of the audio CD in the early eighties did not affect the diffusion of the audio cassette for home use. Although the CD, as a digital medium, guaranteed better preservation of the recordings and, generally, a better quality of reproduction, the audio cassette allowed an ease of recording that, at the time, was impossible to obtain with the CD in the home environment. Until the end of the nineties, the audio cassette was the main medium on which recordings were placed