The cassette tape, also referred to as an audio cassette or simply tape or cassette, was officially trademarked as the Compact Cassette’. Phillips was the first company to introduce it as an analog magnetic tape recording format for audio recording and playback.

In 1962 when it first came on the market it was competing with the 8-track tape and the reel-to-reel tape. It quickly became the favorite format as the cassette tape fidelity improved. In 1968 the first in-dash cassette player was designed for use in cars and audio cassettes became one of the two most common formats for prerecorded music – the other being LP records. 

‘Fast forward’ to the Compact Disc (CD), a digital optical disc data storage format released in 1982 (co-developed by Philips and Sony), and the upheaval of playback and prerecorded formats. Sales of pre-recorded cassettes in the U.S. dropped from 442 million in 1990 to only 274,000 by 2007. The decline was mainly because people were quick to embrace the CD. It was marketed as having better quality sound, did not require A & B sides, and was “indestructible” (which as we all know was not the case). So what happened to all those tapes? Some went to Goodwill, some went in the trash, and others are still sitting in shoe boxes in your parents basement. (probably not the best idea)

A good quality cassette tape can last up to fifty years when stored correctly.

Cassette Best Practices

Here are a few standard tips for caring for audio cassette tapes, so they make that mark:

  • Store your tapes in Norelco style cases to keep them free from dust and dirt.
    Replacement Tape Case

  • Store the cassette cases in proper storage boxes to keep them away from ultra-violet light. We stock a standard corrugated box and one that is buffered and acid-free. Both boxes store the tapes on the long edge which is how they should be stored.
    Audio Cassette Storage Box

  • Rewind your tape before storing. Do not rewind at high speed as over time this can warp the tape. 
  • Keep your tapes in an atmosphere where the temperature is 65-70 degrees and 46-50 degrees relative humidity. PLEASE don’t store them in cars, attics, and basements (unless you run a dehumidifier).
  • Clean your player on a regular basis to keep it free from dust, dirt and tape residue. Some tapes were made with a polyurethane binder, and they can develop “sticky shed syndrome” leaving oxide all along the tape player path. We stock a Wet Style Audio Cassette Head Cleaner. It cleans the audio head guides, capstan, and pinch rollers of your player.

Making a comeback

The resurgence of the cassette tape is a conversation that has been circulating for quite a few years now. Until the last few years, there was not an immense amount of uptick in the sales we experienced in the sales of cassette supplies. However, we are now selling more cassette mailers, cassette cases, and cassette storage boxes then we have in a long time. We also have a line of blank 60 and 90-minute very clean, normal bias tapes. They are high-output, low-noise.  They come in some great colors and tab-in and tab-out formats.

Audio Cassette Tapes

normal bias Audio Cassette Tapes are a very clean normal bias tape. They are high-output, low-noise tapes suitable for voice or music. Recording recommendations: High speed voice or music duplication, mastering voice programs, general purpose use. Available in 60 minute or 90 minute lengths.

To go along with the fresh cassette colors, we have face labels in a spectrum of bright colors including fluorescents.

Audio Cassette Case Inserts & Labels

Inserts & Labels

Bags Unlimited never lost faith in the cassette tape and have continued to carry products for their proper storage. Here’s the link to our entire line of collection protection supplies for audio cassettes.

Audio Cassette

Audio Cassette

According to Wikipedia there have been some recent releases of mainstream music on Compact Cassette.

Recent mainstream releases on cassette

Since the sale of vinyl records has steadily increased since 2006[52], more albums are made available in this format these days, whereas only a few albums are made available as cassettes. Recent mainstream albums which were made available through record companies include:

The way things are going, we may just see more from this ‘antiquated’ format, after all, there is a certain charm and nostalgia when listening to your favorite mix tape.