Thursday, March 11, 2021

Lou Ottens, RIP

Daniel Boffey (Hacker News):

Ottens’s idea was that the cassette tape that should fit in the inside pocket of his jacket. In 1963 the first tape was presented to the world at an electronics fair in Berlin with the tagline “Smaller than a pack of cigarettes!”

Photographs of the invention made their way to Japan, where substandard copies started to emerge. Ottens made agreements with Sony for the patented Philips mechanism to be the standard.

Bill Chappell:

Ottens’ goal was to make something simple and affordable for anyone to use. As Taylor says, “He advocated for Philips to license this new format to other manufacturers for free, paving the way for cassettes to become a worldwide standard.”


Nearly 20 years after Philips introduced cassette tapes, Ottens helped the company to develop compact disc technology for the consumer market and, with Sony, to settle on a format that would become the industry standard.

Update (2021-03-14): John Gruber:

I spent a fortune on CDs when I went to college, but I don’t have the reverent nostalgia for CDs that I do for cassette tapes. (Cassettes were even part of computing — my elementary school had a few TI-99/4A computers with cassette tapes instead of floppy drives.)

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