The death of the Cassette

by TeenLibrarian@evpl on Wednesday, August 6 2008, 3:00pm. Viewed 1,286 times.

I am old enough to remember riding in my family's Electra 225 ("duece and a quarter") with a small cropped afro, sliding across the vinyl on every turn, listening to the Commodores, on our in-dash 8 track player. You think CDs are difficult to manage, imagine putting a good portion of your music collection of 8-tracks above the sun visor.

I can remember begging my mother for my very own Dynamite 8 portable 8-track player. 45s and albums weren't the best medium for playing on the go. So try to imagine the excitement of an 8-track boom box. Multiply that by 100 to the level of ecstatic when Sony released the Walkman. Whoa, that was a must have gadget!! A portable cassette player. Small for the day. Yes a very long time ago. And, yes I was very, very, (very) young. As a teen dj, I bitterly stood on the sidelines and watched the CD replace vinyl LPs. Now we witness the death of the cassette. What am I going to do with all of my cassettes? Wait, do I even have a working cassette player? Where are those cassettes?

New York Times recently publsihed an an article, Say So Long to an Old Companion: Cassette Tapes celebrating the life of cassettes. The article mentioned the decline of the CD as well. History is our best teacher, so for some of you, your memories the of the cassette will be as quaint as mine with the 8 track, enjoying an afternoon drive with your parents listening to the best music on cassette. You too will be hanging on to all of those CDs recollecting the fond memories of, "I remember playing this when..". Some of you maybe will even affect the next change in audio technology.

Let us pause for a moment of silence while we remember our fondest memories with the cassette and say goodbye. Pretty soon they will but a memory in the library and just as nostalgic as the 8-track.

Have you have ever purchased a casette tape? How many of you still purchase CDs? 

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Comments (13)

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on Wednesday, August 6 2008, 4:58pm

Great post!  I remember I wore out my cassette of Billy Joel's "Storm Front" from listening to "We Didn't Start the Fire" so much.

My sis & I purchased our first CD in 1994, Ace of Base's "The Sign".  We had to listen to it in the car, as it was the only CD player we had!

I haven't bought a CD in a long time...most of my music is thru a subscription download service. I'm feeling old!

E-Dub@evpl wrote
on Wednesday, August 6 2008, 4:58pm

Wow, you ARE old. But seriously, in high school I remember driving around in an old, used Pacer hatchback (oh yes, I was THAT cool) that actually had an 8-track player in it left over from the day. The previous owner left one 8-track tape...the Ramones.  God can be merciful 'cos we all know it could've - and by rights most likely should've - been the best of Conway Twitty.

What I will always remember about cassette tapes (besides how sad it was when one died, their tapey guts all stranged inside a player) is the making & receiving mix tapes. I know my teenage niece makes mix CDs for her friends, but they don't have the 'charm' of the stopping & starting sounds, the accidental messy blips, the vinyl skipping that became a permanent part of a song when accidentally taped onto a cassette that way.

on Wednesday, August 6 2008, 6:23pm

I too remember the mixtape. Being a bedroom dj, I spent hours trying to get my mix right just to start recording and the record skips or I bump the table.

My fondest memory of the cassette is when LL Cool J's I'm Bad album was released. Everywhere you drove, you heard it blaring from someone's strained factory installed car system. The bump in the trunk wasn't yet accessible to the masses. We would play it, stop, rewind, and play it again. That went on for hours.

Do you remember the 8 track to cassette converters?

on Thursday, August 7 2008, 11:49am

The cassette and CD may be fading, but vinyl is still kicking.  In fact vinyl sales have risen dramatically over the last few years.  Check out these articles:

The only music media I will spend my money for these days is vinyl.


Meditatinglibrarian@evpl wrote
on Friday, August 8 2008, 1:51pm

What a wonderful thread!  I have nothing to add, since my memories are of 33 and 1/3s, 78s, and 45s - I think I still have some vinyl albums.

kiya@evpl wrote
on Friday, August 8 2008, 4:44pm

I, too, remember when 8-track was new, but it never caught on at our house - my brother had a car with an 8-track player, but he only had about 10 cartridges.

With three older siblings, we had stacks and stacks of 45s, and also lots of albums. (My kids laugh at me when I call CDs albums). My first 45 was a song called "Armstrong," written to commemorate the first moon landing (yes, I'm that old). And the most trouble I was ever in with my oldest sister was when I sat on her 45 of Bill Withers' "Lean on Me." I was in the doghouse for a year, and I'm not sure she's completely forgiven me yet...

I've had trouble letting go of my cassettes, but my last birthday present was a CD player for my car, with an auxiliary jack. And I don't know how long it has been since I've listened to a cassette.

lotech@evpl wrote
on Sunday, August 10 2008, 1:45pm

I just bought a cassette of music and two audiobooks on cassette at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library Friends Booksale!  At home we have two CD players which also play cassettes, and we play cassetes our primary car.  As long as my cassette players work and my cassette tapes don't come unraveled, my CASSETES WILL NOT DIE. ( However I have to admit the clock is ticking ....)

on Wednesday, August 13 2008, 10:41am

Sad but true - my sister and I used to clean the house and pop in any one of my mother's Barry Manilow 8-tracks.  YOWSA.  My oldest sister had all kinds of cool albums on 8 track - 'Panorama' by the Cars is the one I remember the most/best.  Sadly, we did not have an 8-track player in the car.

I have boxes and boxes of cassettes at home - I remember having to buy "Purple Rain" at least three times because I literally WORE OUT the cassette.  My brother used to pilfer my cassettes that he didn't like, put Scotch tape over the tops of them, and tape bootleg Beatles stuff and the "King Biscuit Flour Hour" over my Madonna and Hall and Oates tapes.  And then, there is - the mix tape...what I consider to be the seminal mode of expression for anyone coming of age between 1984 and 1992.

I was thinking the other day about how I used to sit by my stereo, finger on the record button, to catch songs that I heard on the radio and put them on tape.  Anyone else do that??? wrote
on Thursday, August 14 2008, 11:37am

I too remember 78's, 45's, 33 1/3s, monaural and stereo lps.  You could purchase the latest Beatles album in stereo or monaural (monaural was cheaper) but you had to be very careful not to accidentally play your stereo album on a monaural record player. I'll never forgive the friend who ruined the 1st cut on my Meet the Beatles album.  I never had many encounters with 8 track players except in other people's cars.  The 70's were kind of a blur.  But nowadays I am permanently attached to my mp3 player.  I absolutely could not live without it.    

on Tuesday, August 19 2008, 12:25pm

LPs, I remember them well. I grew up with my big brother's copies of The Who and Jimi Hendrix. He had a few 8 tracks, but mostly I remember the records. FWIW, the first record I bought with money I earned was Billy Joel's "Glass Houses." My mid-20s nephew used to call LPs "the big black CDs".

We still have tape players in our cars (we have older cars), and I still play them at home from time to time. Mostly we do CDs, and I'm trying keep up with my daughter's tastes. My mp3 is a little disused right now, but I'll pick it up again before too long.

Bufkinite@evpl wrote
on Saturday, August 30 2008, 9:49am

What a flood of memories this thread brings up!  

In college we listened to nothing but vinyl 33 1/3 LPs (yeah, I'm waaay old!), and 8 tracks came and gave way to cassettes so quickly that I spent most of one summer ('79) with a stereo that had a turntable, 8-track and cassette player all in one, transferring ALL of my vinyl (and all 5 8-tracks I owned) onto cassettes, 'cause, you know, it was gonna be THE final format.

E-Dub@evpl is absolutely right about how thrilling it was to make & receive mix tapes.  I can't tell you how many songs I learned to sing along with, skips, blips, and all.

Thanks for the memories, TeenLibrarian@evpl!

on Friday, September 5 2008, 12:31pm

So much to remember here!

I like how easy it is to make a mix CD, but it will never be the same as a mix tape to me.

I use "CD" and "album" almost equally and tend to get annoyed when people say I'm too young to know what an album is.

My dad packed all of his records away in the basement years ago. If I had the space in my tiny house, I'd probably try and talk him into letting me take the record player and a lot of those records off his hands.

on Friday, October 17 2008, 10:16am

It's amazing how many original album works are still not available in CD format.

Oftentimes the songs themselves are available, but the collection of tracks in CD format with the original title of the album is not.

Even many major artists have holes in their discography in regard to CD reissues.