-- late 1940's
RCA Cartridges -- 1958-1964
Cassette Tape -- 1963-present
4-Track Tape -- mid 1960's
PlayTape -- 1967-1969
8-Track Tape -- 1960's-1983
Elcaset -- 1970's
Digital Audio Tape -- late 1980's
ADAT -- late 1980's
Digital Compact Cassette -- 1992-1996
-- late 1940's
wire recorder had been developing for several years when in mid-40's,
several companies began to work on a magnetic tape recorder. Several
types of tape were introduced, including a plastic-based tape with
oxide, which became the industry standard. Many professional tape
recorders were introduced in the late 40's, and in 1950, two-channel
tape recorders were introduced to make stereo recordings of music
(for demonstration purposes).
RCA introduced a new cartridge recorder in 1958, using 1/8 inch magnetic tape at 3 3/4 ips (the same as the later 8-Track) and requiring a separate player/recorder. The stereophonic tapes -- which bore a striking resemblance to modern cassettes, but three times larger -- held two one-hour stereo programs, and a 1958 catalog of tapes (mostly fictitious) was released. By August 1959, player/recorder units were finally being shipped to distributors, but only 16 recordings were available. RCA had introduced portable units and playback-only units by 1961, and established a tape club to distribute the cartridges, mostly classical and light jazz instrumentals. Sears-Roebuck had also considered marketing a radio-phonograph-cartridge console which never was produced. However, in late 1961, what little market RCA had for stereo cartridges had seriously diminished -- but production did continue by a licensee, Bell Sound, until 1964.
1963, Philips demonstrated the first compact audio cassette using
1/8-inch tape at 1 7/8 ips. These were testmarketed in 1966 in
Britain, more than a year before their release in the U.S. In 1984,
cassette sales exceeded LP sales for the first time.
One relatively short-lived looping-tape format was the 4-Track tape -- it coexisted and competed with the 8-Track tape for a few years, but was soon overtaken. 4-Track tapes were almost identical to their successor, the 8-Track, except for the fact that they had 2 stereo programs instead of four, the inner mechanism was slightly different, and there was a notch on the outer casing. Unfortunately, 8-Track players are unable to play 4-Track tapes without an adapter.
were common in the late 1960's, being one of the first truly portable
formats. Over 3,000 artists recorded these 2-track PlayTape
cartridges, including The Beatles and The Grateful Dead, along with
the entire Motown catalog. With the upsurge of the 8-Track, PlayTapes
were obsolete by 1970. However, PlayTape represented a major step in
the pre-recorded music industry and is a joy and challenge to
collectors of many sorts.
or "Stereo-8," format became popularized in the mid-60's and quickly
overtook its near-identical twin and close competitor, the 4-Track
tape, as well as PlayTape. The 8-Track industry enjoyed a boom in the
early to mid-70's, but died off mainly due to the growing popularity
of the cassette tape. In 1983, the recording industry as a whole
ceased to manufacture 8-Track tapes -- however, there are still
die-hard fans of the format who collect, sell, trade, and even still
Near the end of 1992, the Digital Compact Cassette, or DCC, was introduced. This technology was intended to be a step up from the analog cassette, and DCC players were indeed able to play the traditional analog cassette. However, this close cousin to the Digital Audio Tape was short-lived, and in October of 1996, Philips discontinued manufacturing DCC for home use.
Europe has over 150
titles available on Digital Compact Cassette.