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The rise and fall of the Cassette Tape

Updated on April 18, 2013

How it all started

The Cassette tape was first invented by Phillips Company in the Netherlands in 1962. The next year the United States started to sell cassette tapes with a dictation on them to be put into a Norelco Carry-Corder machine. Phillips had no idea at the time that people would want to use the blank tapes for audio recordings.

The real era of Cassette tapes started in 1971 when Advent came out with a model that combined Dolby noise reduction and chromium dioxide tape, with a special mechanism made by 3M. This is when the tapes started being heavily used for musical purposes.

Cassette Tape

In the 1980s the Cassette tape grows even bigger.

During the 1980s the cassette tape grew even bigger. The Sony Walkman was developed, a small device that could play the cassette tape. Pocket recorders were also developed, a device that you could press a button and it would instantly record it onto the tape you had in the recorder. During the 1980s, with the help of these devices, the cassette tape started outselling records. They were easier to carry, cheaper, and the sound quality was just as good.

The decline

Everything that goes up must come down. After reaching it's peak in the late 1980s, early 90's, the cassette tape started to lose popularity when the CD, or "Compact disc" came out. By 1993, Cd's were already outselling cassette tapes. The decline was so bad, that by 2000, only four percent of music sold was sold by cassette tape. Major music labels stopped having their music put on cassette tapes.

Here's just how low sales dropped.

  • 1990: 442,000,0000 cassettes sold
  • 2007: 274,000 cassettes sold
  • 2009: 34,000 cassettes sold

What cassette tapes are still used for today

Cassette tapes are still used for some things. In most cars there are slots where cassette tapes can be played. Blank cassettes are still used for recording by some people, but most have moved onto Cd's. Audio books are still made on cassettes.

Is the CD to follow?

Will the Compact Disc, or CD, follow in the cassette tape's footsteps? With many people switching to MP3 players and Ipod's, who knows?

I don't think that Cd's will ever get as low as the cassette tape did. Sure, an MP3 player can give you all the songs you want, but CD's are cheaper and you don't need a internet connection to listen to a CD.


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      eliza 3 months ago

      I think they discounted the impact sites like Pandora would have on cds or mp3's and that everyone would carry around their phones constantly.

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      john byars 2 years ago

      i can only think all you people having a stab at slagging-off cassettes either arn't old enough or wise enough to have used them to their full capacity.cassette was wonderfull when used properly with a good player/recorder and enough knowledge to get the best results ie...selecting the best brand for use with your deck,setting levels for that tape manually,using the correct levels of bias-level-eq and most importantly the knowledge to properly clean and demagnetise all parts of the deck the tape came into contact with!. also proper storage and handling conditions for the tape played a great part not only in how tape sounds but most importantly the lifespan of the tape. more recent music storage formats which were designed for fool-proof operation nearly killed the music business for everyone, when the magnetic tape made all music recordings possible for everyone so when logic comes into the's a no-brainer...enjoy the music.

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      isaac 2 years ago

      actually the casset tape came out in the US in 1959 by Collins RAdio at the 1959 NAB convection.

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      Matt 3 years ago

      I still buy CDs from time to time. You can find a lot at garage sales for $1 or less and you can either listen to them in the car or rip them and put them on the computer. Why would you pay $1 a song on iTunes when you can get the whole album for $1 and put them on an MP3 player with about 2 minutes of actual effort.

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      greg g. 3 years ago

      I'm very partial to cassettes because for me it's sentimental, reminds me of my youth. Yes I still play my tapes in my car like always of course to my 80's metal and a lot of newer metal as well. Depending on what type of tape u use sounds just as good as any cd, and yes I agree cds do get damaged quicker than any cassette. Thanx for reading

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      Johnb329 3 years ago

      There is clearly a bundle to realize about this. I suppose you made some good points in features also. kddfeegceafa

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      Douglas 3 years ago

      I want the old cassettes back, because their no place to put them and they get scratched up all the time.

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      Day-z 4 years ago

      How do you use cassettes?

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      Jim 4 years ago

      Well CDs have an advantage Cassette's never had. You can mix with them (a la DJing). That's what has kept vinyl from completely going obsolete incidentally.

    • camlo profile image

      Camlo De Ville 6 years ago from Cologne, Germany

      Hi Moorebored!

      I'm pretty sure the sales of CDs must have gone down tremendously since the advent and popularity of the MP3. I haven't bought one for years.

      I never did like cassettes - they tended to get chewed up in the machine.

      Enjoyed the read!

      All the best, Camlo