Fifty years of tapes: music low-fi that has conquered the world
Let’s face it: the cassette tape was bad but for this was a great success. This week it falls on the fiftieth anniversary of the device invented by Philips in 1963, it’s hard not to be nostalgic tears for that parallelepiped plasticity, which is not always rode well and in need of long waits to load rudimentary 8-bit video games. Yet it had its merits, the first of its versatility: it could contain sound, data and even video. Then there was the queen size to make it more convenient than vinyl, it could be taken anywhere, resist shock and was adjustable.
HERE COMES THE CRISIS – Thanks to that little box ungainly (in Italy renamed “cassette) spread the mixtape , cassette tapes that contained the songs in vogue at the moment, the remix . Yet piracy: those who could not afford to buy the vinyl, which have become very expensive in the early 70s because of the crisis, could now record thousands of copies for themselves or friends. No coincidence that in those years the sale of vinyl sank while that of blank cassettes remained stable so that the record companies made a deal to impose a small fee on the sale of music cassettes which then shared out according to market share.
LOW QUALITY – The low quality of the audio tapes, therefore, needed to hold off the majors, those who wanted to listen to good music must necessarily apply to vinyl or buy original tapes. To have a good audio performance in fact it was necessary to run the tape at high speed but this involved the use of playback tools advanced and expensive. Philips instead had the idea of lowering the speed up to 4.76 inches per second, making the readers technologically simpler and cheaper. It is thus that in 1979, the Sony Walkman was born and with it the concept of the music staff and portable.
STILL ALIVE – After having replaced the vinyl in 1985, the tapes were in turn superseded by CD in 1992, but are far from being dead. In fact continue to be produced from a single factory, the National Audio Co. of Springfield and there are bands like Dirty Projectors, Deerhunter Dinosaur Jr. and who continue to offer their fifties who work on this show is still in shape. At least among the nostalgia.