The death of the Cassette

12 05 2007

Mention the humble cassette and most people will fondly remember making mix tapes, recording tunes from the radio and struggling with tape-loading computer games.

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But the cassette, which has been with us since the 1960s, is passing on. Currys (English Electronics Store) dealt it a mortal blow when it announced today that it will no longer replenish its cassette stock in stores.

In many ways, it’s surprising that the cassette held out for so long. Its decline has been underway ever since the CD began to take hold of the audio market in early 1990s. And the introduction of recordable CDs, audio encoding formats like MP3 and portable music players like the iPod hardly helped either.

Also, let’s not forget that the cassette heralded the beginning of music piracy as we know it today. Of course, recording music from the radio or borrowing a friend’s tape is different to downloading music. But cassette copying created a world in which music consumers and thieves can be one and the same.

It can be hard to say goodbye. And, even if tapes have little use these days, they still have a place in our heart. Or at least in our (old) cars.

via [new scientist]

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