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MUSIC CASSETTE INVENTOR LOU OTTENS DIES

Music Cassette Inventor Lou Ottens Dies

On March 6, Lou Ottens, the inventor of the cassette, passed away at the age of 94. Ottens was a technician at Philips for a long time and was instrumental in the development of the Cassette as well as the CD. The Dutchman was a trained technician and was interested in sound and transmission technologies from a young age. During World War II, he built himself a radio to receive Allied broadcasts.

In 1952, he began his career at the Dutch electronics player Philips, where he was responsible for the product development department after eight years. As a result, the first mobile cassette player was developed there, which sold over a million units. Ottens had his breakthrough in 1963, as a leading figure at Philips, together with the help of cooperation with Sony, he converted the compact cassette into a standard format, which became established worldwide.

The format owes its success, particularly to its handy size and user-friendliness. Lou Ottens was also involved in the development of the CD. Ottens convinced the Philips management that the CD was a suitable data carrier for music, which he ultimately succeeded in doing and helped the company achieve global success together with Sony.

Even though the compact cassette is hard to be found anymore, it made a small comeback during the Corona crisis. According to Discogs‘ latest annual report, a total of 282,798 cassettes were sold in 2020, compared to just 212,103 in 2019. There are currently over 1 million cassettes for sale on the platform. Occasionally, new releases still appear in this format. For example, Lady Gaga released her latest album “Chromatica” on this medium.

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