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The Cassette Turns 50 This Month

Astrid Stawiarz, Getty Images

The cassette turns 50 this month. September of 1963 brought new uses for the Bic pen. Remember rewinding the tape if it was pulled out off of the spool with a pen?  Cassettes were (and still can be if you have the right equipment) a great way to play back instant recordings.

I can remember buying cassettes as a kid and playing them on my Walkman as I left the store. I often waited until they went on sale, from $9.99 to $6.99. I bought my share of K-Tel tapes, which would be similar to today’s ‘Now, That’s What I Call Music’ series for CDs or downloads. Back in my day, records were too clumsy and weren’t very portable, so I didn’t buy too many of those. Cassingles, I had quite a collection of those as well back in the mid to later 80s.

What I also liked doing was buying blanks and taping songs either off of friends’ records or tapes or taping songs off of the radio. We called them mix-tapes; today the term mix-tape refers to an original recording but a remix or an unheard track from an artist released either directly by the artist through their label.

Of course the mix tape was usually made for your crush or new significant other. A few songs I remember that had to be on a tape, “I Remember You” from Skid Row, “I Won’t Forget You” by Poison and “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue. Also with cassettes, the trick was, you had to get past the white or clear leader tape before the recordable tape hit and if you were proficient you could hear when the good tape rolled in before releasing the pause button.

What was your favorite tape you bought or do you remember a mix tape that someone made you?

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