How Advanced Cassette Players Got

Blog Post No. 452

20210720_154028I haven’t seen any creepy crawlies in a few days, so I’m starting to put my room (and work space) back together. While it’s been a pain and my plans for the month have been blown out of the water, it’s nice that I got to do some deep cleaning. I pulled everything off of my shelves and cleaned it before putting it all back. And I took the time to do some reorganizing (one of my favourite ways to procrastinate). One of the things I changed was to put all my stereo components back together and making them front and centre in my hi-fi setup. I use the receiver a lot more than I use the CD changer or Tape Deck, but it’s nice to have them all together and connected properly. Plus, I have the matching Turntable on order (for the third time) and it will be nice to add it to the complete setup.

While testing out the components, I was amazed by the complexity of the cassette player. I’d forgotten how many moving parts there are in even the most simple tape player and how advanced the nice ones got before CDs totally took over. A simple, cheap portable player that you can buy today (while not nearly as good quality) has belts, a pinch roller, the tape head, and a bunch of plastic gears. The one I have connected to my stereo has two decks, logic controls, the record head, the erase head, level controls, and a bunch of other bells and whistles. And it’s not even a top of the line model for the time. Some were even able to tell when there was a gap between songs and automatically fast forward or rewind to the next song.

giphy-5It’s amazing that a technology that was waining (on the verge of obsolescence) was so ubiquitous that they reached an incredibly advanced state at consumer prices. By the early 1990s (when the deck I have is from) CDs were starting to take over. The tech companies were trying to get DAT (digital audio tapes), DCC (Digital Compact Cassettes), and MiniDics off the ground but the music industry was holding them down. So, the good old cassette was hanging in with the growing CD market.

I’m not sure if this has anything to do with writing or editing or even science fiction. I’m just fascinated by how advanced an old format had gotten at its peak (or just past the peak). I’m fascinated by the idea that technology can push a format to its maximum ability when the market exists and how technically better formats can fail due to not being adopted by the public (or in the case of DAT, DCC, and MiniDisc, held down by the music industry). I guess at a stretch, technology can be at the heart of science fiction and I have a fascination with outdated tech (which is evident in my stories). Really, I just wanted to write something about how cool tape decks got at the end.

nlgkcozqyevzIt’s strange, the things our minds cling to when we’re stretched thin. Hopefully I’ve seen about the last of the critters and after everything is back in order, I’ll be able to make up a little ground on the editing. I’m in the middle of the second draft of the Invasion Novel and I have just over a week before I start the next novella and I don’t feel ready. Though, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss writing. Oh, and I just found out that I’m going back to the day job this week. I’m not sure how that’s all going to shake out, but for now, I’ve picked up a couple of shifts at two different facilities. But that’s probably going to be the topic of next week’s post, so I won’t get into it now at the end of this one.

2 thoughts on “How Advanced Cassette Players Got

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