Monday, July 28, 2008

The End of Cassette Tapes: I Didn't Realize They Were Still Here

Sorry to say, I can't remember the last time I used a cassette tape. Of course, the same holds true for VHS tapes too. Their replacements, the cd and the dvd, marked the end of their value. And while I still have cassettes and VHS tapes in the house, most are in boxes somewhere in the attic. The funny thing is I haven't the heart to completely rid myself of them. In my youth, I copied songs, radio stations and movies onto them. I probably have an old Dr. Demento tape from too many years ago.

As a kid, I stood by my cassette player, starting and pausing to capture songs off the radio. I created mixed tapes from my albums and played them at parties. As a teenager, I loved old time radio programs, and collected numerous cassettes of Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, and others. Today, everything is copied and burned. Need a mix, burn to cd rom. And soon, no burning, simply copying to a flash card device.

But new technology has made these tapes more about memories than function. And as the LP begat the tape, and the tape begat the cd, so too will the ipod and mp3 completely replace them. "Such was the case for the eight-track format as well, which was popular in the late 1960s and ’70s. It died relatively quickly with the advent of cassettes because eight-tracks were not widely used for personal recording or mix tape". Electronic download to the device of choice is the next generation and "books on tape" are simply a memory. Audible has been pushing the digital version for years.