life is a mix tape.


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.”

-author unknown

what songs would be on the mix tape of your life?”


story credit: CNN









66 responses »

  1. The one song that would be on any mixed tape I made about my life would be “The Girl with the Weight of the World in her Hands” by the Indigo Girls. Others might include “I’m Movin’ On” by Rascal Flatts, “Back to December” by Taylor Swift, “Send in the Clowns” by Judy Collins.

    I fondly remember cassette tapes because you could tape over them multiple times, allowing me to change songs with the times. I also remember that it was always important to have a pen or pencil nearby.

    Thank you for this memory!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It is too early in the morning to try and list songs representative of my humble life. But this story did bring one memory rushing back. We used to make mix tapes by recording the latest songs from the radio, but it was always frustrating when the DJ seemed to talk all the way through the introduction of your favorite song.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I remember I had a lot of vinyl records when I was young, and then cassette tape came along, but for some reason ?? I stuck to my vinyl’s, until the CD’s appeared on the scene… and now I’m a CD man and a computer YouTube man… BUT, I still have Record player and my 300+ vinyl’s… !!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Magnificent gr8 story! So many memories too – when one bought a car only because it had a tape player….. rehearsing and learning stuff while driving! Having an operation with favourite music on a cassette, bought extra and at great cost with a portable player (later on the same thing with a CD and a fire-red Walkman!). Possibly the only operations I had too – or else i forgot!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My father used to send me mixed tapes he made – they still lived in Europe at the time and I had moved back to Canada. Those tapes always made me feel happy and homesick.

    And I love the story of his prototype getting lost while changing a flat tire!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A great invention we have all used for music and stories, but to newer generations it’s history. Good to remember the clever man who made it happen! I have a drawer full of 50s doo-wop mix tapes a friend made who is no longer with us. He was older than me and those were the songs from his time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So funny, just today my new CD player arrived, and it is one with a cassette deck too. I wanted to have both since I still have so many cassettes from the ’80s and ’90s… so looking forward to listening to them again.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ahh yes, my vinyl soundtrack: Garry Wright’s ‘Dream Weaver;, Derek and the Dominoes ‘Layla’, the soaring guitar and piano solos after the singing is done; 4 Dog Night’s ‘Joy to the World’ and Johnny Otis’s ‘Willie and the Hand Jive’ for starters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There was nothing quite like trying to roll one of those cassette tapes back up with a pencil. It was an amazing invention, yet we had to work so hard for a sound quality that was often not that great.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I saw that the other day and was a little bummed to hear it. I remember my mixed tape adventures and trying to record some jams without the DJ interfering. What a mission!! And yes … yes to the pencil … the fixer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. O.M.G. what my brothers and I were able to do with casette tapes and players. Long before mix tapes for your Boo we made ‘plays’, comedy shows based on Monty Python, and, as we became adults and went to separate corners of the world, we kept up with each other. I’ve never thrown tapes away. I wish I had our earliest tapes when it was us against a harsh, abusive reality. That would be something.

    Blessings on the memory of Mr. Otten.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amazing – and I remember stopping and rewinding bits over and over to memorize lyrics, weeping at sad songs, and taping my future brother in law serenading my sister with his guitar while they were in middle school. He later became a musician, and I wish u has that tape

      Liked by 1 person

  13. My condolences to his family. A phenomenal invention. I have a cassette gifted to me by a dear friend. I will show my kids what this man helped craft, and knowing this, will kick in the story of this man
    Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

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