Lou Ottens RIP inventor of the cassette

Just read in a Belgian newspaper that the inventor of the cassette, Lou Ottens, died (94). He was an Dutch engineer who invented 60 years ago the cassette. He was director of the audio departement at Philips Hasselt Belgium. He also was involved in the development of the CD. His particpation lead apparently to the sale of 100 billion cassettes and 200 billion cd’s.

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Very sad, a revolutionary invention.
I want to watch this … https://www.cassettefilm.com/
Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape - Documentary Film Trailer (2016) - YouTube

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I loved the compact cassette as a format 99% of the time.

I have to wonder if this more than any other physical musical format raised awareness of sound quality to the masses - simply in the sense that if you had a fairly decent recorder there were numerous tape types to explore/evaluate from a practical and quality perspective.

TDK SA 90 was my most favoured cassette - must have hundreds somewhere, just need to find something tidy to play them on!

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I love cassette tapes, and still listen to them and still buy them. They are very popular with hip-hop heads and in the electronica and avant-jazz/improv scenes.

That documentary @robert_h mentiuoned looks absolutely fab.

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I heard the sad news on the radio. Apparently he had a hand in the invention of CD too. He was asked which medium sounded better, Compact Cassette or CD. He said, ‘How would I know, I’m 90.’

C90, Lou, C90.

RIP

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The other thing with cassette which pre-dated streaming/Bandcamp etc was that many bands sold them at gigs long before it was feasible to produce CDs at home/cheaply, and this was a great way of popularising music if only between family and friends.

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Similar thoughts, I was wondering if there should be a limited run of C94 in his honour!

For others who never quite understood the lyrics or subscribed to Smash Hits!

Every day I get a brand new show
Off TV record and radio
I breeze with the sleaze on my cassette
Cause I got the affirmative

C30 C60 C90 Go
C30 C60 C90 Go
C30 C60, C30 C60 C90 Go
30 60 90 Go

A bit bam-boogie and a booga-rooga
My cassette’s just like a bazooka
A bligger, a blagger, a blippity-blop
Well, I’m going down to the record shop

Yeah, and the boss said, “LP, single, picture cover or plain
I’ve got all the hits and all the big names
I’ve got biggest discounts in my store
If you buy three records, I’ll give you four”

C30 C60 C90 Go
Off the radio, I get a constant flow
Hit it, pause it, record it and play
Turn it, rewind and rub it away

C30 C60 C90 Go
C30 C60 C90 Go
C30 C60 C90 Go
C30 C60, C30 C60 C90 Go
30 60 90 Go

It used to break my heart when I went in your shop
And you said my records were out of stock
So I don’t buy records in your shop
Now I tape them all 'cause I’m ‘Top Of The Pops’

Yeah, now I got a new way to move
It’s shiny and black and don’t need a groove
Now I don’t need no album rack
I carry my collection over my back

C30 C60 C90 Go
Off the radio, I get a constant flow
Hit it, pause it, record it and play
Turn it, rewind and rub it away

Policeman stopped me in my tracks
Said, “Hey you, you can’t tape that
You’re under arrest 'cause it’s illegal”
So I shoved him off and blew his whistle

I’m a pirate and I keep my loot
So I blew him out with my bazooka

C30 C60 C90 Go
Off the radio, I get a constant flow
Hit it, pause it, record it and play
Turn it, rewind and rub it away

You’re rich enough to have a record collection
I’ll bring my bazooka 'round for inspection

Sometimes it better get hit twice as fast
So I press my playback to make it last
I breeze with the sleaze on my cassette
I’ve got the affirmative

C30 C60 C90 Go
Off the radio, I get a constant flow
Hit it, pause it, record it and play
Turn it, rewind and rub it away

C30 C60 C90 Go
C30 C60 C90 Go
C30 C60 C90 Go
C30 360, C30 C60 C90 Go
30 60 90 Go

Are there any other similar tracks ?

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Here’s one of the first recorders - the Philips EL3302, alongside a much younger cousin, twice removed. RIP Lou Ottens.

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Something I miss is the noise of the cassette itself as the spools rattled inside the case as you loaded it into a machine. The dialogue intro on the track Black or White, on Dangerous captures it well.

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Ditto along with SA X. I didn’t think the MA or MA X were worth the extra. I’m sure the basic D stood for dull because that’s how they sounded in comparison!

I had some special edition SA X tapes that came in a fancy moulded plastic case but ditched my Denon cassette a long time ago and the tapes with it.

‘magnolia, man’ is missing from the end of the first verse. I knew something was wrong! I had that on cassette back in the day.

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Rack, you should have tried some of the later TDK Ds, particularly the ones from the late '80s and early '90s. They were amazing. Quite hissy still, but dull they certainly weren’t!

My favourite tapes were both from 1982; either the Maxell or the TDK line-up, with TDK SA-X getting the nod thanks to it’s lovely dark brown shell and unique aroma when just unwrapped. I still have a bunch of them boxed and still wrapped up.

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Currently not working I Have a Sony Professional WM-D6C recorder/player. The take up spool will not take up the tape. Probably a belt problem? Not been used for ages so doubtful if a repair is possible. There used to be a specialist repair shop off Tottenham Court Road. Doubtful if Sony have the facility to repair it.
Having said all that, when it did work it was a real gem and along with the Dragon by Nachamichi took the medium to a standard way beyond what its inventor probably could not have imagined.

Ah, the AD X was pretty close to SA & priced similar if I remember right? They definitely all had their own sound. I just thought SA or SA X were the sweet spots for price & performance in the TDK range. Did you ever get your hands on the metal bodied MA-XG? I think that was their top of the line cassette.

Douglas, if it’s a belt then the WM-D6C should be relatively easy to repair. Otherwise plenty out there who can show you how or even do it for you, for a fee. It’s well worth doing as the WM-D6C is a very desirable bit of kit and prices are strong. I could kick myself a bit as I sold mine, mint in the gold box with all the bits, headphones etc… for a pittance back around the turn of the century. However I do still have my WM-DC2 and TC-D3, and these have a tendency to get a rather nasty issue, which is that the main drive gear shrinks slightly and cracks around the metal inner hub. It’s fixable, with a lot of effort, but a PITA!

Yes, I still have a box of 5 of the MA-XGs unopened somewhere, along with some of the later olive green ones and a one or two sealed MA-Rs (one in the TDK '82 lineup pic above). They were nice, and the MA-R in particular looked very cool, especially in the early wrapper.

However, I mostly used UDXLII, XLII and XLII-S because they were pretty much the standard for Dead bootleg swaps so we’d all buy in to get them in bulk for a great price.

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I had the same Phillips player, my father bought it for me in London while we were there to see the Tutankhamun exhibition in the early 70s. Many a happy memory of sitting by the radio with a microphone waiting for Life on Mars to be played so I could record it!

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Talking about this on the radio last night, the interviewee mentioned that Ottens was also heavily involved in the development of CDs. What’s more the interviewee, who knew him, claimed he was prouder of his role in that than the invention of cassette tapes. Anyway, sad to see such a great pioneer leave us.

Roger

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Richard, thanks for the advice on repairs to my WM-D6C. It used to lull me to sleep with the headphones. Tapes of LPs recorded from my LP12!

I had one of those Phillips bought from Ketts in Kingsbury High Road, N London in 1971. I went later to Odeon Radio in Harrow to buy the mains adapter because otherwise it gorged batteries. When in 1976 I got my first car I used to use it to make tapes even though it wasn’t stereo!

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