The Rise and Fall of the Cassette Tape

I recall, as a teenager, recording plays and other things onto cassette tape. I also recollect that sinking feeling when the cassette tape became horribly tangled (those c120 tapes where amongst the worst offenders, at least in my memory).

Besides recording, I also built up (and still retain) a large library of spoken word cassettes, ranging from Stevenson’s Kidnapped through to The Turn of the Screw and When Eight Bells Toll.

Despite my memories of cassettes becoming mangled, I still have great affection for the technology, which perhaps explains why I still retain those spoken word cassettes from my childhood and teenage years.

I therefore confess to having given in to a certain amount of nostalgia as I listened to an item on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row about the rise and fall of the cassette tape, The item is about 10 minutes in length and can be found at the start of the podcast.

11 thoughts on “The Rise and Fall of the Cassette Tape

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      That is interesting, Michael. I’ve never seen a computer cassette drive. I do still have a radio cassette player and I have vaguely toyed with the idea of recording some of my poems onto cassette. Perhaps I shall do that just for fun. Kevin

      1. V.M.Sang

        The earliest pcs had a cassette drive. They stored the software for the computer. You had to turn the pc on, then run the cassette to load the software. Every time!
        We had one of those early ones. A PET. (That was what they were called. I forget what it stood for.) it took an age to get it going, having to load the software every time from a slow medium.

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      I remember memorex and tdk cassettes. I’m glad to hear you still play compilation tapes. I listened to a cassette I have of Victorian poetry yesterday evening. It was the first time in well over a year that I had played a tape, and I must confess that I was slightly worried that it might unravel in my radio cassette. Fortunately it didn’t! Thanks for your comment. Kevin

      1. nickreeves

        How wonderful, Kevin!
        The wheels (or more properly, heads) on my tape deck are quite squeaky now and more apparent during quiet passages. I don’t mind this so much.

        Of course you will recall on occasion quite fondly the streamers of cassette tape strewn in the trees, thrown, one would hope, in frustration from car windows!

        Ah, memorex are made of these 🙂

  1. K Morris Poet Post author

    Sorry, I can’t see the option to reply to your comment, Vivienne. Hence I’m replying at the end of the thread. If you had kept that computer with the tape drive, I guess it would be quite a collectable item now. Kevin

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      I was interested to learn that you also still own several audio books on tape, Tori.

      I wonder whether they are still sold? I bought (or had purchased on my behalf) most of my books in W. H. Smiths. I also remember buying them in Asda, where they where sold in plastic wrappers, which one had to remove before being able to access the cassette cases.

      In Smiths (and I’m sure elsewhere also), you had to take the cassette case to the counter in order to be given the cassettes themselves. I am sure this was done to avoid literary thieves stealing the classics!


      1. Victoria Zigler

        I remember those days too. These days I have only seen them online such as on Amazon.

    2. K Morris Poet Post author

      Its good to know that you also remember those days. I shall check out spoken word cassettes on Amazon. I won’t buy any, it will just be interesting to ascertain what they have.


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