Cassette - History of Cassette

Cassette

Do you like to listen to music? How do you listen to music? Do you listen to the radio or do you have a way to play music on your own? You might have an iPod or an MP3 player that plays digital music files. But, these have not always been around. People have used record albums to listen to music, and for several decades of the 20th century, people used the cassette tape.

The cassette tape-which came before the CD or the MP3 digital file-was invented by RCA Victor in 1958. A cassette tape stores the music on a thin film that winds around two spools as it is played forward or reversed (rewind). The film is enclosed in a hard plastic casing that is typically square and about the size of a modern day cell phone.

Cassette tapes were played with a cassette player. The cassette had two holes in the middle of a wheel with spokes in the middle. The machine had two little sticks that would hold the cassette in place and those sticks would spin, causing the wheels of the cassette to spin. This would move the strip of film forward to play the music.

The cassette tape allowed for a record, or album, to be portal and compact-it could fit in a pocket. Also, with the right machine, a copy of the cassette could easily be made. The sound quality on a cassette tape was better than a record album, but it would be very poor compared to the digital files that we are used to today.

Cassette tapes were sometimes difficult to use. Sometimes the strip of film inside would be caught in the machine used to play them. Then, the only way to get the film back into the cassette was to use a pencil or some other stick to wind the wheels yourself.

Cassettes were a great invention for their time. They replaced the record album. Cassettes were easier to carry around, and they could be played in cars and portable music players. But, now that we have digital music files, cassettes seem clunky and old-fashioned!

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