The Virtual House

Tape Recorders


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1960s advertisement for Jonelle 'Studio' tape recorder
Jonell 'Studio' Tape Recorder

Philips introduced audio (sound) cassette tapes to the world in 1963. This meant for the first time, anybody could make a selection of their favourite music.

A cassette is a sealed case that contains a reel of film or tape. Audio tapes came in cassettes that you simply put into recording machines called tape recorders or cassette players.

1960s advertisement for Jonelle 'Playdek' tape recorder
Jonell Tape Playdek

Cassette players worked by moving a tape past a tape head. A tape head contains patches of magnetism, which are codes for the sounds recorded on it. The tape head changes these magnetic codes into electrical signals. These are made powerful by an amplifier and then sent to a loudspeaker, which turns the signals into sounds.

Tape recorders began to seem too bulky and slow in the late 1980s and began to face competition from formats like the MiniDisc. The future of ‘DIY recordings’ arrived in the late 1990s in the shape of MP3 computer files. Music can now be downloaded from the internet on to a chip, and played at CD quality for hours.


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