Lou Ottens, Creator of the Cassette Tape, Dead at Age 94

Full confession: I had no idea who the heck Lou Ottens was until I woke up this morning and read his obituary (as first reported by the Netherlands’ NRC Handelsblad, Ottens sadly passed away on Saturday, March 8, at the age of 94). I’m guessing most of you hadn’t heard of him before now, either. He wasn’t a household name, despite the fact that he made an immeasurable impact on all our lives:

Lou Ottens created the cassette tape.

He was also instrumental (no pun intended) in the creation of the compact disc.

So yeah kind of a big deal.

The Dutch-born Ottens became the head of Philips’ Product Development Department in 1960. A year later, the company released his first brainchild, the EL 3585, a portable tape recorder. It sold more than a million copies.

Ottens was not content to stop there, though. At the time, the smallest tape system available was the reel-to-reel; Ottens sought to make it far more portable and user-friendly, reportedly using a small wooden block that could fit in his pocket as a size template. He soon figured out how to put tape in a plastic casing, and the invention was released commercially in 1963 as “the compact cassette,” promising consumers that they were “smaller than a pack of cigarettes.”

The format would go on to sell more than a billion units worldwide. Per Deadline:

“The cassette was a dominant format for music sales from the late 1970s — when record companies complained about the scourge of ‘home taping’ — until the rise of the CD in the mid-’80s. After accounting for just 4.6% of U.S. music sales in 1973, they outsold 8-track tapes for the first time in 1980 and then outsold LPs in 1984 for the first time and maintained at least a 50% market share from 1984-89, per the RIAA.”

I’m sure younger readers are gonna read this and think it’s just the ramblings of a sentimental old man, but I truly cannot overstate the import of the cassette tape to my musical development, and I’m sure the same can be said for many of you.

Even if we disregard the fact that world was no longer dependent on radios for portable music (i.e., they could listen to whatever they liked whenever they liked outside the comfort of their living room)… or the fact that they were relatively cheap (compared to vinyl and CDs) meant they were the best option for a lot of folks (artists with whom I first fell in love through cassettes include, off the top of my head, Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Anthrax, Guns N’ Roses, Alice in Chains, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, and Pantera)… stop and ask yourself:

Where would metal be without tape trading???

Forget crawling out of the underground… the genre as we know it simply wouldn’t exist. Some kid from Long Island never hears No Life ‘Til Leather, so death metal never happens; Metal Blade’s Metal Massacre series is never distributed in Norway, so black metal is never created; and so on and so forth.

So let’s all raise a glass to Lou Ottens, the unsung hero of heavy music. May he forever Rest in Power.

The post Lou Ottens, Creator of the Cassette Tape, Dead at Age 94 appeared first on MetalSucks.

Source: metalsucks.net

Lou Ottens, Creator of the Cassette Tape, Dead at Age 94