Lou Ottens, Inventor of the Cassette Tape, Dead at 94

by Keeli Parkey
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If you’re a reader of a certain age, you are all too familiar with what it’s like to pop a cassette tape into a player – probably a Sony Walkman – and listen to your favorite album or mixtape.

With your player in your hand and headphones over your ears, you jam out to the hits of the day. Life is good. The music is great and you’re happy just to nod your head and dance around.

If you can recall moments similar to that, you have one man to thank. That man is Lou Ottens. According to People.com, this man was the inventor of the cassette tape. And, sadly, he recently died at the age of 94.

According to the article on People.com, Ottens invented the cassette tape while he was working as an engineer during the early 1960s at Philips. Lou Ottens was living in the Netherlands when he died.

Ottens started his tenure at Philips, which is a Dutch electronics company, in 1952. He would work his way up to the top man in the development department at the company.

Flash forward a little more than a decade to 1963. It was this year, according to the article, when Ottens and his coworkers had developed the cassette tape. Impressively, they had also developed the very first portable tape recorder.

Back to the cassette tape. According to People.com, the product was – well, is, even though most people don’t use them these days – “an analog magnetic tape recording format that allowed for audio recording and playback.”

Lou Ottens Invented Cassette Tape to Make Music More Accessible

This product made music easier to take with you wherever you go. It was this factor that excited Ottens. He reportedly wanted to give as many people access to music as he could.

“He advocated for Philips to license this new format to other manufacturers for free, paving the way for cassettes to become a worldwide standard,” documentary filmmaker Zack Taylor has reportedly said.

Taylor interviewed Lou Ottens for “Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape” – the film Taylor made.

“Cassettes taught us how to use our voice, even when the message came from someone else’s songs, compiled painstakingly on a mixtape,” Taylor has reportedly said.

Outsider.com