Cassette tape

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This article is about a tape format commonly used for audio recording introduced by Philips in 1963. Cassette tape_sentence_0

For other audio, video and data tape cassette formats, see Cassette and cartridge tapes. Cassette tape_sentence_1

Cassette tape_table_infobox_0

Compact CassetteCassette tape_table_caption_0
Media typeCassette tape_header_cell_0_0_0 Magnetic tape cassetteCassette tape_cell_0_0_1
EncodingCassette tape_header_cell_0_1_0 Analog signal, in four tracksCassette tape_cell_0_1_1
CapacityCassette tape_header_cell_0_2_0 Typically 30 or 45 minutes of audio per side (C60 and C90 formats respectively), 120 minutes also availableCassette tape_cell_0_2_1
Read mechanismCassette tape_header_cell_0_3_0 Tape headCassette tape_cell_0_3_1
Write mechanismCassette tape_header_cell_0_4_0 Tape headCassette tape_cell_0_4_1
Developed byCassette tape_header_cell_0_5_0 PhilipsCassette tape_cell_0_5_1
UsageCassette tape_header_cell_0_6_0 Audio and data storageCassette tape_cell_0_6_1
Extended fromCassette tape_header_cell_0_7_0 Reel-to-reel audio tape recordingCassette tape_cell_0_7_1

The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog magnetic tape recording format for audio recording and playback. Cassette tape_sentence_2

It was developed by Philips in Hasselt, Belgium, and introduced in September 1963. Cassette tape_sentence_3

Compact Cassettes come in two forms, either already containing content as a prerecorded cassette (Musicassette), or as a fully recordable "blank" cassette. Cassette tape_sentence_4

Both forms are reversible by the user. Cassette tape_sentence_5

The compact cassette technology was originally designed for dictation machines, but improvements in fidelity led the Compact Cassette to supplant the stereo 8-track cartridge and reel-to-reel tape recording in most non-professional applications. Cassette tape_sentence_6

Its uses ranged from portable audio to home recording to data storage for early microcomputers. Cassette tape_sentence_7

The first cassette player (although mono) designed for use in car dashboards was introduced in 1968. Cassette tape_sentence_8

Between the early 1970s and continuing through the 1990s, the cassette was one of the two most common formats for prerecorded music, first alongside the LP record and later the compact disc (CD). Cassette tape_sentence_9

Compact Cassettes contain two miniature spools, between which the magnetically coated, polyester-type plastic film (magnetic tape) is passed and wound. Cassette tape_sentence_10

These spools and their attendant parts are held inside a protective plastic shell which is 4 by 2.5 by 0.5 inches (10 cm × 6.3 cm × 1.3 cm) at its largest dimensions. Cassette tape_sentence_11

The tape itself is commonly referred to as "eighth-inch" tape, supposedly ⁄8 inch (3.17 mm) wide, but it is slightly larger: 0.15 inches (3.81 mm). Cassette tape_sentence_12

Two stereo pairs of tracks (four total) or two monaural audio tracks are available on the tape; one stereo pair or one monophonic track is played or recorded when the tape is moving in one direction and the second (pair) when moving in the other direction. Cassette tape_sentence_13

This reversal is achieved either by flipping the cassette, or by the reversal of tape movement ("auto-reverse") when the mechanism detects that the tape has come to an end. Cassette tape_sentence_14

History Cassette tape_section_0

Before the Compact Cassette Cassette tape_section_1

In 1935, decades before the introduction of the Compact Cassette, AEG released the first reel-to-reel tape recorder (in German: Tonbandgerät), with the commercial name "Magnetophon". Cassette tape_sentence_15

It was based on the invention of the magnetic tape (1928) by Fritz Pfleumer, which uses similar technology but with open reels (for which the tape was manufactured by BASF). Cassette tape_sentence_16

These instruments were very expensive and relatively difficult to use and were therefore used mostly by professionals in radio stations and recording studios. Cassette tape_sentence_17

By 1953, 1 million U.S. homes had tape machines. Cassette tape_sentence_18

In 1958, following four years of development, RCA Victor introduced the stereo, quarter-inch, reversible, reel-to-reel RCA tape cartridge. Cassette tape_sentence_19

However, it uses a large cassette (5 × 7 in, or 13 × 18 cm), and offered few pre-recorded tapes. Cassette tape_sentence_20

Despite the multiple versions, it failed. Cassette tape_sentence_21

Later the similar Elcaset also failed in the market. Cassette tape_sentence_22

Consumer use of magnetic tape machines took off in the early 1960s, after playback machines reached a comfortable, user-friendly design. Cassette tape_sentence_23

This was aided by the introduction of transistors which replaced the bulky, fragile, and costly vacuum tubes of earlier designs. Cassette tape_sentence_24

Reel-to-reel tape then became more suitable for household use, but still remained an esoteric product. Cassette tape_sentence_25

WIRAG, the Vienna division of Philips also developed a cartridge, described as single-hole cassette, adapted from its German described name Einloch-Kassette. Cassette tape_sentence_26

Tape and tape speed were identical with the Compact Cassette. Cassette tape_sentence_27

Grundig came up with the DC-International derived from blue prints of the Compact Cassette in 1965, but failed on the demand of distributing companies. Cassette tape_sentence_28

Introduction of the Compact Cassette Cassette tape_section_2

In 1962, Philips invented the Compact Cassette medium for audio storage, introducing it in Europe on 30 August 1963 at the Berlin Radio Show, and in the United States (under the Norelco brand) in November 1964, with the trademark name Compact Cassette. Cassette tape_sentence_29

The team at Philips was led by Lou Ottens in Hasselt, Belgium. Cassette tape_sentence_30

"Philips was competing with Telefunken and Grundig in a race to establish its cassette tape as the worldwide standard, and it wanted support from Japanese electronics manufacturers." Cassette tape_sentence_31

However, Philips' Compact Cassette became dominant as a result of Sony pressuring Philips to license the format to them free of charge. Cassette tape_sentence_32

Philips also released the Norelco Carry-Corder 150 recorder/player in the US in November 1964. Cassette tape_sentence_33

By 1966 over 250,000 recorders had been sold in the US alone and Japan soon became the major source of recorders. Cassette tape_sentence_34

By 1968, 85 manufacturers had sold over 2.4 million players. Cassette tape_sentence_35

By the end of the 1960s, the cassette business was worth an estimated 150 million dollars. Cassette tape_sentence_36

In the early years sound quality was mediocre, but it improved dramatically by the early 1970s when it caught up with the quality of 8-track tape and kept improving. Cassette tape_sentence_37

The Compact Cassette went on to become a popular (and re-recordable) alternative to the 12-inch vinyl LP during the late 1970s. Cassette tape_sentence_38

Popularity of music cassettes Cassette tape_section_3

The mass production of "blank" (not yet recorded) Compact Cassettes began in 1964 in Hanover, Germany. Cassette tape_sentence_39

Prerecorded music cassettes (also known as Music-Cassettes, and later just Musicassettes; M.C. Cassette tape_sentence_40

for short) were launched in Europe in late 1965. Cassette tape_sentence_41

The Mercury Record Company, a US affiliate of Philips, introduced M.C. Cassette tape_sentence_42

to the US in July 1966. Cassette tape_sentence_43

The initial offering consisted of 49 titles. Cassette tape_sentence_44

However, the system had been designed initially for dictation and portable use, with the audio quality of early players not well suited for music. Cassette tape_sentence_45

Some early models also had an unreliable mechanical design. Cassette tape_sentence_46

In 1971, the Advent Corporation introduced their Model 201 tape deck that combined Dolby type B noise reduction and chromium(IV) oxide (CrO2) tape, with a commercial-grade tape transport mechanism supplied by the Wollensak camera division of 3M Corporation. Cassette tape_sentence_47

This resulted in the format being taken more seriously for musical use, and started the era of high fidelity cassettes and players. Cassette tape_sentence_48

Although the birth and growth of the cassette began in the 1960s, its cultural moment took place during the 1970s and 1980s. Cassette tape_sentence_49

The cassette's popularity grew during these years as a result of being a more effective, convenient and portable way of listening to music. Cassette tape_sentence_50

Stereo tape decks and boom boxes became some of the most highly sought-after consumer products of both decades. Cassette tape_sentence_51

Portable pocket recorders and high-fidelity ("hi-fi") players, such as Sony's Walkman (1979), also enabled users to take their music with them anywhere with ease. Cassette tape_sentence_52

The increasing user-friendliness of the cassette led to its popularity around the globe. Cassette tape_sentence_53

Like the transistor radio in the 1950s and 1960s, the portable CD player in the 1990s, and the MP3 player in the 2000s, the Walkman defined the portable music market for the decade of the '80s, with cassette sales overtaking those of LPs. Cassette tape_sentence_54

Total vinyl record sales remained higher well into the 1980s due to greater sales of singles, although cassette singles achieved popularity for a period in the 1990s. Cassette tape_sentence_55

Another barrier to cassettes overtaking vinyl in sales was shoplifting; compact cassettes were small enough that a thief could easily place one inside a pocket and walk out of a shop without being noticed. Cassette tape_sentence_56

To prevent this, retailers would place cassettes inside oversized "spaghetti box" containers or locked display cases, either of which would significantly inhibit browsing, thus reducing cassette sales. Cassette tape_sentence_57

During the early 1980s some record labels sought to solve this problem by introducing new, larger packages for cassettes which would allow them to be displayed alongside vinyl records and compact discs, or giving them a further market advantage over vinyl by adding bonus tracks. Cassette tape_sentence_58

Willem Andriessen wrote that the development in technology allowed "hardware designers to [...] discover and satisfy one of the collective desires of human beings all over the world, independent of region, climate, religion, culture, race, sex, age and education: the desire to enjoy music at any time, at any place, [...] in any desired sound quality and almost at any wanted price. Cassette tape_sentence_59

Apart from the purely technological advances cassettes brought, they also served as catalysts for social change. Cassette tape_sentence_60

Their durability and ease of copying helped bring underground rock and punk music behind the Iron Curtain, creating a foothold for Western culture among the younger generations. Cassette tape_sentence_61

For similar reasons, cassettes became popular in developing nations. Cassette tape_sentence_62

One of the most famous political uses of cassette tapes was the dissemination of sermons by the Ayatollah Khomeini throughout Iran before the 1979 Iranian Revolution, in which Khomeini urged the overthrow of the regime of the Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Cassette tape_sentence_63

During the military dictatorship of Chile (1973–1990) a "cassette culture" emerged where blacklisted music or music that was by other reasons not available as records was shared. Cassette tape_sentence_64

Some pirate cassette producers created brands such as Cumbre y Cuatro that have in retrospect received praise for their contributions to popular music. Cassette tape_sentence_65

Armed anti-dictatorship groups such as Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (FPMR) and the Revolutionary Left Movement (MIR) made use of cassettes to propagandize their struggle. Cassette tape_sentence_66

In 1970s India, cassettes were blamed for bringing unwanted Christian and Islamic influences into traditionally Sikh and Hindu areas. Cassette tape_sentence_67

Cassette technology was a booming market for pop music in India, drawing criticism from conservatives while at the same time creating a huge market for legitimate recording companies, as well as pirated tapes. Cassette tape_sentence_68

Some sales channels were associated with cassettes: in Spain filling stations often featured a display selling cassettes. Cassette tape_sentence_69

While offering also mainstream music these cassettes became associated with genres such as Gipsy rhumba, light music and joke tapes that were very popular in the 1970s and 1980s. Cassette tape_sentence_70

Between 1985 and 1992, the cassette tape was the most popular format in the UK and record labels experimented with innovative packaging designs. Cassette tape_sentence_71

A designer during the era explained: "There was so much money in the industry at the time, we could try anything with design." Cassette tape_sentence_72

The introduction of the cassette single, called a "cassingle", was also part of this era and featured a music single in Compact Cassette form. Cassette tape_sentence_73

Until 2005, cassettes remained the dominant medium for purchasing and listening to music in some developing countries, but compact disc (CD) technology had superseded the Compact Cassette in the vast majority of music markets throughout the world by this time. Cassette tape_sentence_74

Decline Cassette tape_section_4

Cassettes remained popular for specific applications, such as car audio, personal stereo and telephone answering machines, well into the 1990s. Cassette tape_sentence_75

Cassettes players were typically more resistant to shocks than CD players, and their lower fidelity was not considered a serious drawback. Cassette tape_sentence_76

With the introduction of electronic skip protection it became possible to use portable CD players on the go, and automotive CD players became viable. Cassette tape_sentence_77

By 1993, annual shipments of CD players had reached 5 million, up 21% from the year before; while cassette player shipments had dropped 7% to approximately 3.4 million. Cassette tape_sentence_78

By the early 2000s, the CD player rapidly replaced the cassette player as the default audio component in the majority of new vehicles in Europe and America. Cassette tape_sentence_79

Sales of pre-recorded music cassettes in the U.S. dropped from 442 million in 1990 to 274,000 by 2007. Cassette tape_sentence_80

Most of the major U.S. music companies had discontinued production of pre-recorded cassettes by 2003. Cassette tape_sentence_81

For audiobooks, the final year that cassettes represented greater than 50% of total market sales was 2002 when they were replaced by CDs as the dominant media. Cassette tape_sentence_82

Many out of print titles, such as those published during the cassette's heyday of the 1970s-2000s, are only available on the original cassettes. Cassette tape_sentence_83

The last new car with an available cassette player was a 2010 Lexus SC 430. Cassette tape_sentence_84

The same year Sony stopped the production of personal cassette players. Cassette tape_sentence_85

In 2011, the Oxford English Dictionary removed the word "cassette player" from its 12th edition Concise version. Cassette tape_sentence_86

Some media sources mistakenly claimed that the term "cassette tape" was being removed. Cassette tape_sentence_87

21st-century use and revival Cassette tape_section_5

Although portable digital recorders are most common today, analog tape remains a desirable option for certain artists and consumers. Cassette tape_sentence_88

Older genres like "dansband" may favor the format most familiar to their fans. Cassette tape_sentence_89

Some musicians and DJs in the independent music community maintain a tradition of using and releasing cassettes due to its low cost and ease of use. Cassette tape_sentence_90

Underground and DIY communities release regularly, and sometimes exclusively, on cassette format, particularly in experimental music circles and to a lesser extent in hardcore punk, death metal, and black metal circles, out of a fondness for the format. Cassette tape_sentence_91

Even among major label stars, the form has at least one devotee: Thurston Moore claimed in 2009, "I only listen to cassettes." Cassette tape_sentence_92

Very few companies (as of 2020) still make cassettes. Cassette tape_sentence_93

Among those are National Audio Company, from the US, and Mulann, also known as Recording The Masters, from France. Cassette tape_sentence_94

They both make their own magnetic tape, which used to be outsourced. Cassette tape_sentence_95

In 2010, Botswana-based Diamond Studios announced plans for establishing a plant to mass-produce cassettes in a bid to combat piracy. Cassette tape_sentence_96

It opened in 2011. Cassette tape_sentence_97

In South Korea, the early English education boom for toddlers encourages a continuous demand for English language cassettes, as of 2011, due to the affordable cost. Cassette tape_sentence_98

In India, film and devotional music continued to be released in the cassette format due to its low cost until 2009. Cassette tape_sentence_99

National Audio Company in Missouri, the largest of the few remaining manufacturers of audiocassettes in the U.S., oversaw the mass production of the "Awesome Mix #1" cassette from the film Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. Cassette tape_sentence_100

They reported that they had produced more than 10 million tapes in 2014 and that sales were up 20 percent the following year, their best year since they opened in 1969. Cassette tape_sentence_101

In 2016, cassette sales in the United States rose by 74% to 129,000. Cassette tape_sentence_102

In 2018, following several years of shortage, National Audio Company began producing their own magnetic tape, becoming the world's first known manufacturer of an all-new tape stock. Cassette tape_sentence_103

Mulann, a company which acquired Pyral/RMGI in 2015 and originates from BASF, also started production of its new cassette tape stock in 2018, basing on reel tape formula. Cassette tape_sentence_104

In other countries like Japan and South Korea, pop acts like Matsuda Seiko, SHINee, and NCT 127 have released their recent material on limited-run cassette tapes. Cassette tape_sentence_105

In 2016, retail chain Urban Outfitters, which had long carried Vinyl LPs, started carrying a line of new pre-recorded cassette tapes along with blank cassettes and players featuring both new and vintage albums. Cassette tape_sentence_106

A number of synthwave artists (such as The Midnight, Michael Oakley and Anders Enger Jensen) have released their albums on cassette (in addition to the usual digital download format). Cassette tape_sentence_107

Some tracks in this genre (notably The Midnight's Endless Summer and Memories, LeBrock's Please Don't Cry and Michael Oakley's Rabbit in the Headlights) include sound effects at the beginning or end of the track to help give an ambience of listening on cassette even when the music itself is being played digitally. Cassette tape_sentence_108

Since 2016, cassette tape sales have seen a modest resurgence, with 2016, 2017 and 2018 all showing increased sales. Cassette tape_sentence_109

Features Cassette tape_section_6

The cassette was a great step forward in convenience from reel-to-reel audio tape recording, although, because of the limitations of the cassette's size and speed, it initially compared poorly in quality. Cassette tape_sentence_110

Unlike the 4-track stereo open-reel format, the two stereo tracks of each side lie adjacent to each other, rather than being interleaved with the tracks of the other side. Cassette tape_sentence_111

This permitted monaural cassette players to play stereo recordings "summed" as mono tracks and permitted stereo players to play mono recordings through both speakers. Cassette tape_sentence_112

The tape is 0.15 in (3.81 mm) wide, with each mono track 1.5 millimetres (0.059 in) wide, plus an unrecorded guard band between each track. Cassette tape_sentence_113

In stereo, each track is further divided into a left and a right channel of 0.6 mm (0.024 in) each, with a gap of 0.3 mm (0.012 in). Cassette tape_sentence_114

The tape moves past the playback head at 1 ⁄8 inches per second (4.76 cm/s), the speed being a continuation of the increasingly slower speed series in open-reel machines operating at 30, 15, ​7 ⁄2, or ​3 ⁄4 inches per second. Cassette tape_sentence_115

For comparison, the typical open-reel ​⁄4-inch 4-track consumer format used tape that is 0.248 inches (6.3 mm) wide, each track .043 in (1.1 mm) wide, and running at either twice or four times the speed of a cassette. Cassette tape_sentence_116

Cassette types Cassette tape_section_7

Further information: Compact Cassette tape types and formulations Cassette tape_sentence_117

Cassette tapes are made of a polyester-type plastic film with a magnetic coating. Cassette tape_sentence_118

The original magnetic material was based on gamma ferric oxide (Fe2O3). Cassette tape_sentence_119

Circa 1970, 3M Company developed a cobalt volume-doping process combined with a double-coating technique to enhance overall tape output levels. Cassette tape_sentence_120

This product was marketed as "High Energy" under its Scotch brand of recording tapes. Cassette tape_sentence_121

Inexpensive cassettes commonly are labeled "low-noise," but typically are not optimized for high frequency response. Cassette tape_sentence_122

For this reason, some low-grade IEC Type I tapes have been marketed specifically as better suited for data storage than for sound recording. Cassette tape_sentence_123

In 1968 DuPont, the inventor of chromium dioxide (CrO2) manufacturing process, began commercialization of CrO2 media. Cassette tape_sentence_124

The first CrO2 cassette was introduced in 1970 by Advent, and later strongly backed by BASF, the inventor and longtime manufacturer of magnetic recording tape. Cassette tape_sentence_125

Next, coatings using magnetite (Fe3O4) such as TDK's Audua were produced in an attempt to approach or exceed the sound quality of vinyl records. Cassette tape_sentence_126

Cobalt-adsorbed iron oxide (Avilyn) was introduced by TDK in 1974 and proved very successful. Cassette tape_sentence_127

"Type IV" tapes using pure metal particles (as opposed to oxide formulations) were introduced in 1979 by 3M under the trade name Metafine. Cassette tape_sentence_128

The tape coating on most cassettes sold today as either "normal" or "chrome" consists of ferric oxide and cobalt mixed in varying ratios (and using various processes); there are very few cassettes on the market that use a pure (CrO2) coating. Cassette tape_sentence_129

Simple voice recorders and earlier cassette decks are designed to work with standard ferric formulations. Cassette tape_sentence_130

Newer tape decks usually are built with switches and later detectors for the different bias and equalization requirements for higher grade tapes. Cassette tape_sentence_131

The most common, iron oxide tapes (defined by the IEC 60094 standard, as "Type I") use 120 µs equalization, while chrome and cobalt-adsorbed tapes (IEC Type II) require 70 µs equalization. Cassette tape_sentence_132

The recording bias levels also were different. Cassette tape_sentence_133

BASF and Sony tried a dual layer tape with both ferric oxide and chrome dioxide known as 'ferrichrome' (FeCr) (IEC Type III), but these were available for only a short time in the 1970s. Cassette tape_sentence_134

These also use 70 µs, just like Type II did. Cassette tape_sentence_135

Metal cassettes (IEC Type IV) also use 70 µs equalization, and provide still further improvement in sound quality as well as durability. Cassette tape_sentence_136

The quality normally is reflected in the price; Type I cassettes generally are the cheapest, and Type IV are usually the most expensive. Cassette tape_sentence_137

BASF chrome tape used in commercially pre-recorded cassettes used type I equalization to allow greater high-frequency dynamic range for better sound quality, but the greater selling point for the music labels was that the Type I cassette shell could be used for both ferric and for chrome music cassettes. Cassette tape_sentence_138

Notches on top of the cassette shell indicate the type of tape. Cassette tape_sentence_139

Type I cassettes have only write-protect notches, Type II have an additional pair next to the write protection ones, and Type IV (metal) have a third set near the middle of the top of the cassette shell. Cassette tape_sentence_140

These allow later cassette decks to detect the tape type automatically and select the proper bias and equalization. Cassette tape_sentence_141

An exception to this standard were mechanical storytelling dolls from the 1980s (e.g. Teddy Ruxpin) which used the Type IV metal configuration cassette shell but had normal Type I voice grade tape inside. Cassette tape_sentence_142

These toys used the Type IV notches to detect that a specially coded tape had been inserted, where the audio of the story is stored on the left channel and various cue tones to tell the doll's servos how and when to move along with the story on the right channel. Cassette tape_sentence_143

Most pre-recorded chrome cassettes require 120 µs equalisation and are treated as Type I (with notches as Type I ferric cassettes), to ensure compatibility with budget equipment. Cassette tape_sentence_144

Tape length Cassette tape_section_8

Tape length usually is measured in minutes of total playing time. Cassette tape_sentence_145

The most popular varieties (always marketed with a capital letter 'C' prefix) are C46 (23 minutes per side), C60 (30 minutes per side), C90, and C120. Cassette tape_sentence_146

The C46 and C60 lengths typically are 15 to 16 micrometers (0.59 to 0.63 mils) thick, but C90s are 10 to 11 μm (0.39 to 0.43 mils) and (the less common) C120s are just 6 μm (0.24 mils) thick, rendering them more susceptible to stretching or breakage. Cassette tape_sentence_147

Some vendors are more generous than others, providing 132 or 135 meters (433 or 443 feet) rather than 129 meters (423 feet) of tape for a C90 cassette. Cassette tape_sentence_148

Even C180 tapes were available at one time, but these were extremely thin and fragile and suffered from such effects as print-through, which made them unsuitable for general use. Cassette tape_sentence_149

150 minute length were in past available from Maxell (UR 150), Sony (CDixI 150) and TDK (TDK AE 150, CDing1 150 and CDing2 150), only in Japan. Cassette tape_sentence_150

All of these were discontinued - Maxell simplified its cassette offer to 10, 20, 60 and 90-minute lengths, Sony exited the audio cassette market globally, and Imation, licensee of the TDK trademark, exited the consumer products market. Cassette tape_sentence_151

Other lengths are (or were) also available from some vendors, including C10, C12 and C15 (useful for saving data from early home computers and in telephone answering machines), C30, C40, C50, C54, C64, C70, C74, C80, C84, C100, C105, and C110. Cassette tape_sentence_152

As late as 2010, Thomann still offered C10, C20, C30 and C40 IEC Type II tape cassettes for use with 4- and 8-track portastudios. Cassette tape_sentence_153

Some companies included a complimentary blank cassette with their portable cassette recorders in the early 1980s. Cassette tape_sentence_154

Panasonic's was a C14 and came with a song recorded on side one, and a blank side two. Cassette tape_sentence_155

Except for C74 and C100, such non-standard lengths always have been hard to find, and tend to be more expensive than the more popular lengths. Cassette tape_sentence_156

Home taping enthusiasts may have found certain lengths useful for fitting an album neatly on one or both sides of a tape. Cassette tape_sentence_157

For instance, the initial maximum playback time of Compact Discs was 74 minutes, explaining the relative popularity of C74 cassettes. Cassette tape_sentence_158

Track width Cassette tape_section_9

The full tape width is 3.8 mm. Cassette tape_sentence_159

For mono recording the track width is 1.5 mm. Cassette tape_sentence_160

In stereo mode each channel has width of 0.6 mm with a 0.3 mm separation to avoid crosstalk. Cassette tape_sentence_161

Head gap Cassette tape_section_10

The "head gap" of a tape recorder refers to the space, in the direction of tape movement, between the ends of the pole pieces of the head. Cassette tape_sentence_162

Without a gap the head would produce a "closed" magnetic field and so would not interact sufficiently with the magnetic domains on the tape. Cassette tape_sentence_163

The head gap width is 2 µm which gives a theoretical maximum frequency of about 12 kHz (at the standard speed of 1 7/8 ips or 4.76 cm/s). Cassette tape_sentence_164

A narrower gap would give a higher frequency limit but also weaker magnetization. Cassette tape_sentence_165

However, such limitations can be corrected through equalization in the recording and playback amplification sections, and narrower gaps were quite common, particularly in more expensive cassette machines. Cassette tape_sentence_166

For example, the RP-2 series combined record/playback head (used in many Nakamichi cassette decks from the 1980s and 1990s) had a 1.2 µm gap, which allows for a playback frequency range of up to 20 kHz. Cassette tape_sentence_167

A narrower gap width makes it harder to magnetize the tape, but is less important to the frequency range during recording than during playback, so a two-head solution can be applied: a dedicated recording head with a wide gap allowing effective magnetization of the tape and a dedicated playback head with a specific width narrow gap, possibly facilitating very high playback frequency ranges well above 20 kHz. Cassette tape_sentence_168

Separate record and playback heads were already a standard feature of more expensive reel-to-reel tape machines when cassettes were introduced, but their application to cassette recorders had to wait until demand developed for higher quality reproduction, and for sufficiently small heads to be produced. Cassette tape_sentence_169

Write-protection Cassette tape_section_11

All cassettes include a write protection mechanism to prevent re-recording and accidental erasure of important material. Cassette tape_sentence_170

Each side of the cassette has a plastic tab on the top that may be broken off, leaving a small indentation in the shell. Cassette tape_sentence_171

This indentation allows the entry of a sensing lever that prevents the operation of the recording function when the cassette is inserted into a cassette deck. Cassette tape_sentence_172

If the cassette is held with one of the labels facing the user and the tape opening at the bottom, the write-protect tab for the corresponding side is at the top-left. Cassette tape_sentence_173

Occasionally and usually on higher-priced cassettes, manufacturers provided a movable panel that could be used to enable or disable write-protect on tapes. Cassette tape_sentence_174

If later required, a piece of adhesive tape can be placed over the indentation to bypass the protection, or (on some decks), the lever can be manually depressed to record on a protected tape. Cassette tape_sentence_175

Extra care is required to avoid covering the additional indents on high bias or metal bias tape cassettes adjacent to the write-protect tabs. Cassette tape_sentence_176

Tape leaders Cassette tape_section_12

In most cassettes, the magnetic tape is attached to each spool with a leader, usually made of strong plastic. Cassette tape_sentence_177

This leader protects the weaker magnetic tape from the shock occurring when the tape reaches the end. Cassette tape_sentence_178

Leaders can be complex: a plastic slide-in wedge anchors a short fully opaque plastic tape to the take-up hub; one or more tinted semi-opaque plastic segments follow; the clear leader (a tintless semi-opaque plastic segment) follows, which wraps almost all the way around the supply reel, before splicing to the magnetic tape itself. Cassette tape_sentence_179

The clear leader spreads the shock load to a long stretch of tape instead of to the microscopic splice. Cassette tape_sentence_180

Various patents have been issued detailing leader construction and associated tape player mechanisms to detect leaders. Cassette tape_sentence_181

Cassette tape users would also use spare leaders to repair broken tapes. Cassette tape_sentence_182

The disadvantage with tape leaders is that the sound recording or playback does not start at the beginning of the tape, forcing the user to cue forward to the start of the magnetic section. Cassette tape_sentence_183

For certain applications, such as dictation, special cassettes containing leaderless tapes are made, typically with stronger material and for use in machines that had more sophisticated end-of-tape prediction. Cassette tape_sentence_184

Home computers that made use of cassettes as a more affordable alternative to floppy discs (e.g. Apple II, Commodore PET) were designed to not start writing or reading data until leaders had spooled past. Cassette tape_sentence_185

Endless loop cassette Cassette tape_section_13

See also: Endless tape cartridge Cassette tape_sentence_186

Some cassettes were made to play a continuous loop of tape without stopping. Cassette tape_sentence_187

Lengths available are from around 30 seconds to a standard full length. Cassette tape_sentence_188

They are used in situations where a short message or musical jingle is to be played, either continuously or whenever a device is triggered, or whenever continuous recording or playing is needed. Cassette tape_sentence_189

Some include a sensing foil on the tape to allow tape players to re-cue. Cassette tape_sentence_190

From as early as 1969 various patents have been issued, covering such uses as uni-directional, bi-directional, and compatibility with auto-shut-off and anti-tape-eating mechanisms. Cassette tape_sentence_191

One variant has a half-width loop of tape for an answering machine outgoing message, and another half-width tape on spools to record incoming messages. Cassette tape_sentence_192

Cassette tape adapter Cassette tape_section_14

Cassette tape adapters allow external audio sources to be played back from any tape player, but were typically used for car audio systems. Cassette tape_sentence_193

An attached audio cable with a phone connector converts the electrical signals to be read by the tape head, while mechanical gears simulate reel to reel movement without actual tapes when driven by the player mechanism. Cassette tape_sentence_194

Optional mechanics Cassette tape_section_15

In order to wind up the tape more reliably, the former BASF (from 1998 EMTEC) patented the Special Mechanism or Security Mechanism advertised with the abbreviation SM in the early 1970s, which was temporarily taken over by Agfa under license. Cassette tape_sentence_195

This feature each includes a rail to guide the tape to the spool and prevent an unclean roll from forming. Cassette tape_sentence_196

The competition responded by inserting additional deflector pins closer to the coils in the lower plastic case half. Cassette tape_sentence_197

Some low-priced and pre-recorded compact cassettes were made without pulleys; the tape is pulled directly over the capstan drive. Cassette tape_sentence_198

For the pressure of the tape to the head there is a thinner felt on a glued foam block instead of the usual felt on a leaf spring. Cassette tape_sentence_199

Flaws Cassette tape_section_16

Audio Cassette tape_section_17

The Compact Cassette originally was intended for use in dictation machines. Cassette tape_sentence_200

In this capacity, some later-model cassette-based dictation machines could also run the tape at half speed (⁄16 in/s) as playback quality was not critical. Cassette tape_sentence_201

The cassette soon became a popular medium for distributing prerecorded music—initially through The Philips Record Company (and subsidiary labels Mercury and Philips in the U.S.). Cassette tape_sentence_202

As of 2009, one still finds cassettes used for a variety of purposes, such as journalism, oral history, meeting and interview transcripts, audio-books, and so on. Cassette tape_sentence_203

Police are still big buyers of cassette tapes, as some lawyers "don't trust digital technology for interviews". Cassette tape_sentence_204

However, they are starting to give way to Compact Discs and more "compact" digital storage media. Cassette tape_sentence_205

Prerecorded cassettes were also employed as a way of providing chemotherapy information to recently diagnosed cancer patients as studies found anxiety and fear often gets in the way of the information processing. Cassette tape_sentence_206

The cassette quickly found use in the commercial music industry. Cassette tape_sentence_207

One artifact found on some commercially produced music cassettes was a sequence of test tones, called SDR (Super Dynamic Range, also called XDR, or eXtended Dynamic Range) soundburst tones, at the beginning and end of the tape, heard in order of low frequency to high. Cassette tape_sentence_208

These were used during SDR/XDR's duplication process to gauge the quality of the tape medium. Cassette tape_sentence_209

Many consumers objected to these tones since they were not part of the recorded music. Cassette tape_sentence_210

Broadcasting Cassette tape_section_18

News reporting, documentary, and human interest broadcast operations often used portable Marantz PMD-series recorders for the recording of speech interviews. Cassette tape_sentence_211

The key advantages of the Marantz portable recorders were the accommodation of professional microphones with an XLR connector, normal and double tape speed recording for extended frequency response, Dolby and dbx noise reduction systems, manual or automatic gain control (AGC) level control, peak limiter, multiple tape formulation accommodation, microphone and line level input connections, unbalanced RCA stereo input and output connections, live or tape monitoring, VU meter, headphone jack, playback pitch control, and operation on AC power or batteries optimized for long duration. Cassette tape_sentence_212

Unlike less-expensive portable recorders that were limited to automatic gain control (AGC) recording schemes, the manual recording mode preserved low noise dynamics and avoided the automatic elevation of noise. Cassette tape_sentence_213

Home studio Cassette tape_section_19

Beginning in 1979, Tascam introduced the Portastudio line of four- and eight-track cassette recorders for home-studio use. Cassette tape_sentence_214

In the simplest configuration, rather than playing a pair of stereo channels of each side of the cassette, the typical "portastudio" used a four-track tape head assembly to access four tracks on the cassette at once (with the tape playing in one direction). Cassette tape_sentence_215

Each track could be recorded to, erased, or played back individually, allowing musicians to overdub themselves and create simple multitrack recordings easily, which could then be mixed down to a finished stereo version on an external machine. Cassette tape_sentence_216

To increase audio quality in these recorders, the tape speed sometimes was doubled to 33/4 inches per second, in comparison to the standard 1⁄8 ips; additionally, dbx, Dolby B or Dolby C noise reduction provided compansion (compression of the signal during recording with equal and opposite expansion of the signal during playback), which yields increased dynamic range by lowering the noise level and increasing the maximum signal level before distortion occurs. Cassette tape_sentence_217

Multi-track cassette recorders with built-in mixer and signal routing features ranged from easy-to-use beginner units up to professional-level recording systems. Cassette tape_sentence_218

Although professional musicians typically used multitrack cassette machines only as "sketchpads", Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska was recorded entirely on a four-track cassette tape. Cassette tape_sentence_219

Home dubbing Cassette tape_section_20

Most cassettes were sold blank, and used for recording (dubbing) the owner's records (as backup, to play in the car, or to make mixtape compilations), their friends' records, or music from the radio. Cassette tape_sentence_220

This practice was condemned by the music industry with such alarmist slogans as "Home Taping Is Killing Music". Cassette tape_sentence_221

However, many claimed that the medium was ideal for spreading new music and would increase sales, and strongly defended their right to copy at least their own records onto tape. Cassette tape_sentence_222

For a limited time in the early 1980s Island Records sold chromium dioxide "One Plus One" cassettes that had an album prerecorded on one side and the other was left blank for the purchaser to use, another early example being the 1980 "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go" cassingle by Bow Wow Wow where the b-side of the tape was blank, allowing the purchaser to record their own b-side. Cassette tape_sentence_223

Cassettes were also a boon to people wishing to tape concerts (unauthorized or authorized) for sale or trade, a practice tacitly or overtly encouraged by many bands, such as the Grateful Dead, with a more counterculture bent. Cassette tape_sentence_224

Blank cassettes also were an invaluable tool to spread the music of unsigned acts, especially within tape trading networks. Cassette tape_sentence_225

Various legal cases arose surrounding the dubbing of cassettes. Cassette tape_sentence_226

In the UK, in the case of CBS Songs v. Amstrad (1988), the House of Lords found in favor of Amstrad that producing equipment that facilitated the dubbing of cassettes, in this case a high-speed twin cassette deck that allowed one cassette to be copied directly onto another, did not constitute copyright infringement by the manufacturer. Cassette tape_sentence_227

In a similar case, a shop owner who rented cassettes and sold blank tapes was not liable for copyright infringement even though it was clear that his customers likely were dubbing them at home. Cassette tape_sentence_228

In both cases, the courts held that manufacturers and retailers could not be held accountable for the actions of consumers. Cassette tape_sentence_229

As an alternative to home dubbing, in the late 1980s, the Personics company installed booths in record stores across America that allowed customers to make personalized mixtapes from a digitally encoded back-catalogue with customised printed covers. Cassette tape_sentence_230

Institutional duplication Cassette tape_section_21

Educational, religious, corporate, military, and broadcasting institutions benefited from messaging proliferation through accessibly priced duplicators, offered by Telex Communications, Wollensak, Sony, and others. Cassette tape_sentence_231

The duplicators would operate at double (or greater) tape speed. Cassette tape_sentence_232

Systems were scalable, enabling the user to purchase initially one "master" unit (typically with 3 "copy" bays) and add "slave" units for expanded duplication abilities. Cassette tape_sentence_233

Data recording Cassette tape_section_22

The Hewlett-Packard HP 9830 was one of the first desktop computers in the early 1970s to use automatically controlled cassette tapes for storage. Cassette tape_sentence_234

It could save and find files by number, using a clear leader to detect the end of tape. Cassette tape_sentence_235

These would be replaced by specialized cartridges, such as the 3M DC-series. Cassette tape_sentence_236

Many of the earliest microcomputers implemented the Kansas City standard for digital data storage. Cassette tape_sentence_237

Most home computers of the late 1970s and early 1980s could use cassettes for data storage as a cheaper alternative to floppy disks, though users often had to manually stop and start a cassette recorder. Cassette tape_sentence_238

Even the first version of the IBM PC of 1981 had a cassette port and a command in its ROM BASIC programming language to use it. Cassette tape_sentence_239

However, IBM cassette tape was seldom used, as by 1981 floppy drives had become commonplace in high-end machines. Cassette tape_sentence_240

Nintendo's Famicom had an available cassette data recorder, used for saving programs created with the hardware's version of BASIC and saving progress in some Famicom games. Cassette tape_sentence_241

It was never released outside Japan, but the North American versions of some of the compatible games can technically be used with it, since many early copies of two of the games (Excitebike and Wrecking Crew) are actually just the Japanese versions in a different shell, and Nintendo intentionally included compatibility in later prints of those titles and in other games since they were planning on releasing the recorder in the region anyway. Cassette tape_sentence_242

The typical encoding method for computer data was simple FSK, typically at data rates of 500 to 2000 bit/s, although some games used special, faster-loading routines, up to around 4000 bit/s. Cassette tape_sentence_243

A rate of 2000 bit/s equates to a capacity of around 660 kilobytes per side of a 90-minute tape. Cassette tape_sentence_244

Among home computers that used primarily data cassettes for storage in the late 1970s were Commodore PET (early models of which had a cassette drive built-in), TRS-80 and Apple II, until the introduction of floppy disk drives and hard drives in the early 1980s made cassettes virtually obsolete for day-to-day use in the US. Cassette tape_sentence_245

However, they remained in use on some portable systems such as the TRS-80 Model 100 line—often in microcassette form—until the early 1990s. Cassette tape_sentence_246

Floppy disk storage had become the standard data storage medium in the United States by the mid-1980s; for example, by 1983 the majority of software sold by Atari Program Exchange was on floppy. Cassette tape_sentence_247

Cassette remained more popular for 8-bit computers such as the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, MSX, and Amstrad CPC 464 in many countries such as the United Kingdom (where 8-bit software was mostly sold on cassette until that market disappeared altogether in the early 1990s). Cassette tape_sentence_248

Reliability of cassettes for data storage is inconsistent, with many users recalling repeated attempts to load video games; the Commodore Datasette used very reliable, but slow, digital encoding. Cassette tape_sentence_249

In some countries, including the United Kingdom, Poland, Hungary, and the Netherlands, cassette data storage was so popular that some radio stations would broadcast computer programs that listeners could record onto cassette and then load into their computer. Cassette tape_sentence_250

See BASICODE. Cassette tape_sentence_251

The use of better modulation techniques, such as QPSK or those used in modern modems, combined with the improved bandwidth and signal-to-noise ratio of newer cassette tapes, allowed much greater capacities (up to 60 MB) and data transfer speeds of 10 to 17 kbit/s on each cassette. Cassette tape_sentence_252

They found use during the 1980s in data loggers for scientific and industrial equipment. Cassette tape_sentence_253

The cassette was adapted into what is called a streamer cassette (also known as a "D/CAS" cassette), a version dedicated solely for data storage, and used chiefly for hard disk backups and other types of data. Cassette tape_sentence_254

Streamer cassettes look almost exactly the same as a standard cassette, with the exception of having a notch about one quarter-inch wide and deep situated slightly off-center at the top edge of the cassette. Cassette tape_sentence_255

Streamer cassettes also have a re-usable write-protect tab on only one side of the top edge of the cassette, with the other side of the top edge having either only an open rectangular hole, or no hole at all. Cassette tape_sentence_256

This is due to the entire one-eighth inch width of the tape loaded inside being used by a streamer cassette drive for the writing and reading of data, hence only one side of the cassette being used. Cassette tape_sentence_257

Streamer cassettes can hold anywhere from 250 kilobytes to 600 megabytes of data. Cassette tape_sentence_258

Successors Cassette tape_section_23

Elcaset is a short-lived audio format that was created by Sony in 1976 that is about twice the size, using larger tape and a higher recording speed. Cassette tape_sentence_259

Unlike the original cassette, the Elcaset was designed for sound quality. Cassette tape_sentence_260

It was never widely accepted, as the quality of standard cassette decks rapidly approached high fidelity. Cassette tape_sentence_261

Technical development of the cassette effectively ceased when digital recordable media, such as DAT and MiniDisc, were introduced in the late 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s, with Dolby S recorders marking the peak of Compact Cassette technology. Cassette tape_sentence_262

Anticipating the switch from analog to digital format, major companies, such as Sony, shifted their focus to new media. Cassette tape_sentence_263

In 1992, Philips introduced the Digital Compact Cassette (DCC), a DAT-like tape in almost the same shell as a Compact Cassette. Cassette tape_sentence_264

It was aimed primarily at the consumer market. Cassette tape_sentence_265

A DCC deck could play back both types of cassettes. Cassette tape_sentence_266

Unlike DAT, which was accepted in professional usage because it could record without lossy compression effects, DCC failed in home, mobile and professional environments, and was discontinued in 1996. Cassette tape_sentence_267

The microcassette largely supplanted the full-sized cassette in situations where voice-level fidelity is all that is required, such as in dictation machines and answering machines. Cassette tape_sentence_268

Microcassettes have in turn given way to digital recorders of various descriptions. Cassette tape_sentence_269

Since the rise of cheap CD-R discs, and flash memory-based digital audio players, the phenomenon of "home taping" has effectively switched to recording to a Compact Disc or downloading from commercial or music sharing Web sites. Cassette tape_sentence_270

Because of consumer demand, the cassette has remained influential on design, more than a decade after its decline as a media mainstay. Cassette tape_sentence_271

As the Compact Disc grew in popularity, cassette-shaped audio adapters were developed to provide an economical and clear way to obtain CD functionality in vehicles equipped with cassette decks but no CD player. Cassette tape_sentence_272

A portable CD player would have its analog line-out connected to the adapter, which in turn fed the signal to the head of the cassette deck. Cassette tape_sentence_273

These adapters continue to function with MP3 players and smartphones, and generally are more reliable than the FM transmitters that must be used to adapt CD players and digital audio players to car stereo systems. Cassette tape_sentence_274

Digital audio players shaped as cassettes have also become available, which can be inserted into any cassette player and communicate with the head as if they were normal cassettes. Cassette tape_sentence_275

See also Cassette tape_section_24

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: tape.