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Thanks for the memories, Lou

Imagine all the memories held by billions of people from countless events in their lives that were accompanied by the perfect soundtrack. It’s hard to believe that one man is responsible for making them all possible. Prior to 1964, portable music just wasn’t that portable, but cassette tapes, or musiccassettes as they were called, changed everything and by the late ’60s, widespread adoption was taking hold. 8-track tapes started to take some market share from the more compact cassettes, but refinement in the overall fidelity of cassettes made them much more viable in the long run, ultimately leading to the demise of the 8-track. So whether you remember making out in your car while listening to Pink Floyd or listening to Slayer while riding the school bus, you can thank Lou for the memories.

Lou Ottens, the Dutch engineer credited with inventing the cassette tape and playing a major role in the development of the first CD, has died aged 94 at his home in the village of Duizel in North Brabant. As product development manager at Philips, Ottens twice revolutionized the world of music, but he remained modest to the end. “We were little boys who had fun playing,” he said. “We didn’t feel like we were doing anything big. It was a kind of sport.”

Ottens, born on 21 June 1926, showed an early interest in engineering, building a radio as a teenager through which he and his parents could receive Radio Oranje during Germany’s wartime occupation of the Netherlands. He equipped the device with a directional antenna that he called a “Germanenfilter” because it could avoid the jammers used by the Nazi regime… read more >

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