But which came first, cassette tapes or 8 tracks?
The compact cassette tape is older than the 8 track tape, but both were introduced to the US market around the same time.
The cassette tape was invented in 1962 by Phillips’ Belgium team, introduced to the European market in 1963, and came to America in November of 1964. Stereo 8 Cartridges (commonly known as 8 track) went on the US market in 1965.
Just like a cassette tape, an 8 track tape is a magnetic analog music device. But unlike your average cassette tape, 8 tracks do not need to be flipped over to play all the tracks.
To stay relevant in the market, 8 track inventor William Powell Lear worked out a deal with Ford Motor to have 8 track players installed in Ford cars in 1966. By 1967, Chrysler and General Motors also hopped on board the 8 track trend. In 1978, 8 track sales peaked.
But by the mid-1980s, 8 track tapes were no longer being sold or manufactured. To 8 track’s misfortune, the new and smaller cassette tapes were seen as more convenient to consumers. Cassette tapes were also more popular worldwide.
At first, 8 track seemed like the better option in terms of sound quality. But in the early 1970s, cassette tape technology started catching up and becoming more portable.
Eventually, cassette tapes also met their demise as CDs started to dominate the market in the early 1990s.
Yet even today, cassette tape culture is starting to see a comeback as more people and music artists appreciate the nostalgia over CDs and virtual downloads.