Lou Ottens, the Dutch inventor of the cassette tape, has died at home in the Netherlands, at the age of 94, his family has confirmed to CNN. An estimated 200 billion cassette tapes have been sold worldwide, according to Philips, the company he began working for in 1952. Ottens also supervised the team that developed the compact disc (CD). Ottens was described by Olga Coolen, director of the Philips Museum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, as an “extraordinary man who loved technology.”
Ottens cut a block of wood that would fit into the side of his jacket pocket to find an ideal size for the new carrier. The block became the model after which the first portable cassette recorder was made, said Philips. Remarkably, his wooden prototype was later lost when used to prop up his jack while changing a flat tire.
In 1963, the development of the cassette and the playback device had done so well that they were presented at the Internationale Funkausstellung, a trade exhibition for audio products in Berlin. Guests from Japan were inspired by his invention and the cassette was quickly copied by Japanese manufacturers into a different format and sold onto the Japanese market. The cassette recorder was a huge hit around the world, but particularly with young people in the 1960s – 1980s.
The device helped capture iconic sounds, according to Philips, as recounted by Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, who wrote in his 2010 autobiography “Life”: “I wrote the song ‘Satisfaction’ in my sleep. I didn’t know at all that I had recorded it, the song only exists thank God to the little Philips cassette recorder. I looked at it in the morning — I knew I had put a new tape in the night before — but it was at the very end. Apparently, I had recorded something. I rewound and then ‘Satisfaction’ sounded … and then 40 minutes of snoring.”
In 2013, on the 50th anniversary of the cassette tape, a special exhibition was created to honor Ottens’ work at the Philips Museum. The first-ever cassette recorder still lies on display as “a testimony to his foresight and innovation,” Coolen, in a statement to CNN, added that his extraordinary inventions had “humble beginnings.”
“life is a mix tape.”
what songs would be on the mix tape of your life?”
story credit: CNN