Birthdays are often days of jubilation. It’s odd when a birthday is met with mixed emotion as is the 50th birthday of the cassette.
The compact cassette and player were invented by Philips and unveiled at the Berlin fair on August 30, 1963. But Philips considers the technical introduction to be two weeks later on September 13, when the format was launched in Amsterdam, the company’s headquarters.
Many audiophiles will decry the cassette as an inferior medium to the LP and plagued with limitations and problems. Nevertheless, whatever the audiophile shortcomings of a medium intended for recording dictation, the cassette has had far reaching musical impact for generations of users.
Whether it was portability, ease of recording, or the ability to make mixes, audio cassettes have done far more to advance audio than the harshest of critics would possibly care to admit.
So, even as the beauty of a flawed diamond lies in the beholder, I for one salute the birthday of the cassette: to all those recorded songs from the radio; to all those moments of music in my car; to the original portable music revolution made possible by the cassette; to all those magical moments–even if they were not of the utmost fidelity–thank you Phillips and thanks to the cassette for being part of so many special memories.
Here’s to celebrating your centennial in 50 more years.