For as long as there have been cars, we want our music to travel with us.
Radio is good, but what if you want to choose the tunes?
There have been attempts…like putting a phonograph in a car.
Then came the 8-track tape.
But finally, on September 13th, 1963, the Phillips audio company announced a new recorder, and the media it recorded on…the audio cassette, and nothing was the same.
Yep, the cassette is 50 years old.
“The problem with the 8-track is that you had to listen all the way through the tape before you could get back to the song you liked,” says KTBB’s Paul Gleiser. “And the cassette you could play it and rewind or fat forward to the song you liked and it would work. The thing that cassettes did for us in the news business is it made audio from the field possible. Because it was never practical to take a reel to reel recorder out into the field to gather news with it.”
But the cassette had a flaw. It’s tape running over a playback head, and that made a hissing sound.
Enter audio genius Ray Dolby.
“You had to deal with the hiss,” Dolby said. “So I found a way to go around the problem.”
And from then on every cassette player had the little Dolby button to lower the hiss.
But cassettes are gone now.
So Dolby turned his mind to the movie-going experience, with Dolby Surround sound.
So if you like hearing the helicopter noise go from the back of the theater to the front, or the light saber sound to surround you, you can thank Ray Dolby.
So as we celebrate the golden anniversary of the cassette tape, we mark the passing of the man who made it more listenable.
Ray Dolby was 80 years old.