Look Up Another Term

Definition: audio cassette


A 1/8" inch, analog audio tape format that was widely used for music distribution and home recording. Cassettes holding from 15 to 60 minutes per side were manufactured, the time determined by the length of the tape inside. In the past, millions of pre-recorded and blank cassettes were sold each year; however, sales dwindled to practically nil until 2017 when they made a momentary comeback due to Guardians of the Galaxy soundtracks released on the nostalgic media.

The First Popular Portable Medium
Introduced by Philips in 1965, the "compact audio cassette" offered an alternative to the much larger vinyl record player. Not only was it battery operated and portable, it was recordable, and the format became the standard among teenagers for taping concerts. As soon as commercial recordings on cassette began to proliferate, it became the standard for music playback in vehicles.

Enter the Walkman
In 1979, Sony introduced the Walkman, a small, lightweight and belt-worn audio cassette player that let a person comfortably listen to music via headphones while strolling. The progenitor of the digital music player, the tape-based Walkman was extremely popular during the 1980s. It evolved into a portable CD player by the end of the decade. See Walkman.

Digital Recording
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, many of the first personal computers allowed audio cassette recorders to function as digital storage. Never widely used, their transfer rates were slow, and the floppy disk was always preferred. See cassette.




Audio Cassette Recorders
A huge variety of cassette players and recorders were made over the years, both desktop and portable. On the right, the blue-gray Radio Shack and silver Sony Walkman players had AM/FM tuners.






From Cassette to MP3 Player
A third the size of the cassette, let alone the player, Apple's first iPod Shuffle held 10 times as much music as an audio cassette.






Long Gone
For decades, an audio cassette player was a common accessory in a vehicle. However, by 2011, they were history.