50 today – the cassette tape!

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The Classic
Sony so far

Today the Cassette tape celebrates its 50th anniversary. Superseding LPs and the classy reel to reel tape recorder of Mission Impossible fame, the audio cassette made music affordable, recordable and portable for the average Joe or Joanne for the very first time. Its heyday was between the 70’s and the 90’s and I defy anybody not to have a stash of them lurking about their garage or in their bits and pieces drawer somewhere. Its little brown reel of magnetic recording tape is not so much in fashion now. But there was nothing quite like the satisfaction back in the day of effecting a ‘repair’ by rewinding it all back in with the end of a pencil when it had got chewed up in the machine. Next was the arrival of the ‘mixed’ tape phenomenon which was a BIG thing. This revolutionary concept allowed you to design your own eclectic menu of audio delights or perhaps compile them as a token of your esteem for the latest object of your desire. Someone did make me a mixed tape once, and instead of seeing it as thoughtful personal gift I found it vaguely embarassing. Don’t ask me why. The Sony Walkman was a revolutionary product in its day – but it still had a tape in it. I know ipods can hold 2,000 songs and we’re all very blase about itunes and spotify and even CDs are dying out because everything now happens up there in the virtual cloud of the interweb, but cassettes were real man.
I used to work for the Police in the 90’s and, when I left, I took with me as a momento (with permission from the Force) an original SONY dictaphone which the police used at that time to take statements from witnesses and criminals. It is a classic piece of kit which I still use to tape songs on to or to learn my lines on when I’m doing a play. I consider it very retro chic.

Every home should have one

 I still have a tape player in the kitchen which works less well now, it has to be said, since it blew up during Gardeners Question Time one Sunday afternoon. I even had a tape player in my car which some people seemed to think was tantamount to living in the stone age, until quite recently, when the car was replaced for a slightly newer model. Tapes are becoming an object of nostalgia, almost a pop icon.You can get tapes on your t shirt or your wallpaper. You can have them tattooed onto your body parts or make them into art. Or why not make large cassette cake and then eat it? Whatever comes next in the fast moving world of digital imagination, the humble cassette tape may be gone from our everyday use but it is most certainly not forgotten.  James Bond 50th Birthday

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