Lou Ottens, who in 1963 invented the cassette tape while an engineer at Philips, has died. He was 94. I'm glad that he lived to see the cassette resurgence of recent years. From NPR:
The cassette tape was Ottens' answer to the large reel-to-reel tapes that provided high-quality sound but were seen as too clunky and expensive. He took on the challenge of shrinking tape technology in the early 1960s, when he became the head of new product development in Hasselt, Belgium, for the Dutch-based Philips technology company.
"Lou wanted music to be portable and accessible," says documentary filmmaker Zack Taylor, who spent days with Ottens for his film, Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape.
Ottens' goal was to make something simple and affordable for anyone to use. As Taylor says, "He advocated for Philips to license this new format to other manufacturers for free, paving the way for cassettes to become a worldwide standard."
But first, he had to invent it. Trying to envision something that didn't yet exist, Ottens used a wooden block that was small and thin enough to fit in his pocket as the target for what the future of tape recording and playback should be.