Continuing this weeks theme of exploring old audio/video formats, here is a seven minute film (probably made for a trade show) circa 1957 introducing the first cassette tape, brought to you by RCA Victor. It’s ‘small’ size is touted as one of its finer features but honestly the tape looks like one of those giant Nestle Chocolate bars. It plays in a stylish mid-century console and it appears that it was a quite effective new music delivery system. The cassette features all the stuff later smaller cassettes featured (easy forward and rewind) but with the added bonus of turning itself off at then end of one side (my old cassette players stayed on, straining the tape to the breaking point). It also has a counter to tell you how much tape has already played, something which later players lacked.

This was an interesting format, one that didn’t last too long for reasons that elude me. Clearly it was designed with sound quality in mind and the wider tape and higher playback speed support this (these are two of the factors that made it more difficult to get good sound quality on a compact cassette). There’s no real reason that this couldn’t have been a successor to the LP. For whatever reason, though, RCA gave up on it. Maybe the dog that stares into the Victrola horn put the kibosh on it.


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