Just Who Was the Guy That Made the Cassette Player?

No one can say for certain who invented the cassette player, but one of the earliest cassette machines ever made was the Philips EL 3300 which came out in August, 1963. They were very basic mono record devices and they needed a microphone too. Before CDs and mp3s became popular, cassettes were the preferred choice for listening to music.



A Brief History of the Audio Cassette

In 1888, Oberlin Smith had visualized the use of magnetic storage for audio recording. But it was a year later when Vlademar Poulsen created the first magnetic storage although it wasn’t until 1928 when the magnetic tape was invented by Fritz Pfleumer. These devices however, did not catch the attention of the public.

It wasn’t until 1963 when Philips released their EL 3300 in Europe. It proved to be a success and would be released a year later in America. By the 1970s, the cassette player had become as well known and popular as the LP.

The earliest cassette players were used like dictation machines and used to record personal information rather than music. It was only in 1966 when the device started being used for music. The Mercury Record Company was the first to use the cassette player for 49 of their tittles. Other recording companies would follow suit and by the 1980s, cassettes and cassette players had become mainstream. One of the reasons for its increased popularity was the Sony Walkman, the first portable cassette player.


While the earliest cassette players needed microphones by the 1980s, condenser microphones were built in that could record sound. The typical recorder usually has a long box and has the width of a cassette with “piano key” controls at the bottom, a speaker and is wide as a cassette. The piano keys became very popular and became standard. The controls consisted of a pause, and keys for “record”, “rewind”, “fast-forward”, and “play”, “eject” and stop.

The stop button was symbolized by a square, a vertically divided square for the pause and for rewind, a red dot. The “rewind” and “fast-forward” control is symbolized by the double triangles and for play, right-pointing triangle. For eject it is an underlined vertically pointed triangle. The stop function is symbolized by a square. These markings did not just become standard for cassette players, but is still used today in mp3 players and software audio players.

These recorders became high fidelity and were referred to as cassette decks. Compared to the standard cassette recorders and players, these decks didn’t have speakers or amplification. As time passed, various models and styles emerged.


From its peak in the 1980s, the demand for cassettes and cassette players has gone on the decline. The primary reason was the rise of the compact disc (CD) which has superior audio quality. By 1993, sales of CD players had gone up by more than 20% while demand for cassettes slipped by 7%. By the year 2000, cassettes only made up 4% of sold music. The following years witnessed bigger declines as major recording companies stopped using them altogether. That is why few retailers still sell them.

Although no one can say for certain who invented the cassette player, there is no questioning its legacy. In fact, the cassette has not completely disappeared because they can still be found in a few high fidelity systems.

Matt is a free lancer writer of http://www.whoinventedit.net/