Wednesday, October 12, 2011

8 track flashback


I was cleaning out a file cabinet this morning – well, cleaning out isn’t an accurate description, since I haven’t thrown anything away yet – when I found most of the Nov. 29, 1969 issue of Rolling Stone.

I think I saved it because it had a lengthy interview with Bob Dylan, but there were also stories about the Stones on the eve of their disastrous Altamont Speedway gig, the Who using 46 big speakers to wow the crowd at the Fillmore East in New York, and Elvis signing a major contract for live performances. There was also a condescending story out of Nashville about how much “shitkickers” love Johnny Cash.

But what caught my eye this morning was this ad for an 8 track recorder.

Considering that the median age of Americans is 36.9 years, it’s likely that most people living today never saw or heard of an 8 track cartridge.

The 8 track cartridge held a continuous loop of tape that contained four tracks of stereo music and could accommodate the contents of most record albums of the day. The 8 track gained popularity in the 1960s as a way to play music of your choice in your car. I had an 8 track player in an English Ford Cortina, the worst car I ever owned. Improvements in the sound quality of the Compact Cassette and the proliferation of cassette recorders doomed the 8 track.

Cassettes were obsoleted by CDs and now we find ourselves in the age of digital music.

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