Enmore Audio

Inventor of the cassette tape, Lou Ottens, dies at 94

Dutch engineer Lou Ottens, inventor and brains behind the cassette tape and pioneer of the CD, has died at age 94.

A pioneer in audio engineering, transforming the way people listened to music from the 1960s to now, Lou Ottens, engineer and inventor of the cassette tape has died at the age of 94.

Born in Bellingwolde, the Netherlands, Ottens started his work at Philips product development company during the 1960s where he and his team created the first piece of audio technology that allowed music to be recorded and shared on a global scale from a compact size.

His work made way for some of the greatest progressions and developments within the audio world, allowing anyone to record tracks of music by themselves removed from studios and less accessible equipment.

Ottens’ aim was to create a highly portable, compact and plastic-encased sound machine that was easier to use than the original reel-to-reel tape recorder and thus the legendary cassette tape was born.

Unveiled at the Berlin radio show in 1963, the accessible and easy to use tape catalysed a sonic revolution. Never before had there been a priority placed on the self-recording and shareability of music that the cassette tape introduced and it didn’t take long before it caught on, with billions being sold worldwide.

Following the immense success of the cassette tape, Ottens was back to work. In partnership with Sony in 1982 he played a part in creating the compact disc, more commonly known as the CD — another incredible development within the world of audio.

Although sales of cassette tapes became obsolete following the introduction of the CD, MP3 and other digital technologies, the significance of its creation still stands strong as an important audio phenomenon, reinvigorating the possibilities achievable in the production of portable music devices.