Except perhaps the youngest who read us, most of you know what a cassette tape, and almost all of you will have used this physical format at some time in your life. Cassette tapes accompanied retro culture in countless ways, and not just by adorning gas station windows with compilations that almost no one bought. We have been able to enjoy revolutions like Spectrum along with these tapes, as well as hours and hours of music and broken walkmans.
Cassette tapes didn’t exist until the 1960s, when a Dutch engineer named Lou Ottens, who was working for the company at that time Hasselt, property of Endhoven PhilipsFed up with the big green and yellow ribbons that were stored on big reels, he shaped a compact format that would drive an entire culture.
Cassette tapes have been sold by the billions (without exaggeration) throughout the second half of the 20th century, although they ended up being replaced with the advent of the CD. Unlike vinyl records, tapes did not safeguard a specific quality of sound that would save them from being relegated.
This past weekend Lou Ottens died in the Netherlands at the age of 94. The engineer saw the heyday and peak of his greatest achievement, but he also witnessed its decline. In an interview a few years ago with the NRC he said that “his greatest pride was worn away a long time ago.” However, we can continue to witness multiple tributes to cassette tapes in films like Guardians of the Galaxy or series like Stranger Things, where retro culture is more alive than ever.
From the writing of Hobby Consolas we want to convey our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Lou Ottens. Rest in peace.