Lou Ottens, Dutch inventor who created the first cassette tape in 1963, dies aged 94 

Mr Ottens died in his hometown of Duizel last weekend, his family has announced. No cause of death was given

Mr Ottens died in his hometown of Duizel last weekend, his family has announced. No cause of death was given

Mr Ottens died in his hometown of Duizel last weekend, his family has announced. No cause of death was given

Lou Ottens, the Dutch inventor who created the first cassette tape, has died aged 94. 

Mr Ottens created the first cassette tape in 1963, and an estimated 100 billion have been sold around the world since. 

His invention revolutionised the way people would go on to listen to music and allowed audiophiles, for the first time ever, to listen to music on the move. 

The engineer died in his hometown of Duizel last weekend, his family has announced. No cause of death was given. 

Mr Ottens became head of Philips’ product development department in 1960 and he and his team set about developing the cassette tape. 

Lou Ottens, the Dutch inventor who created the first cassette tape, has died aged 94. Mr Ottens created the first cassette tape in 1963

Lou Ottens, the Dutch inventor who created the first cassette tape, has died aged 94. Mr Ottens created the first cassette tape in 1963

Lou Ottens, the Dutch inventor who created the first cassette tape, has died aged 94. Mr Ottens created the first cassette tape in 1963 

His team of engineers were tasked with converting the bulky reel-to-reel tape recorders of the era into a more portable and consumer-friendly gadget. The end result was the cassette tape. 

The then 37-year-old engineer presented the tape at the Berlin Radio electronics fair (now known as IFA Berlin) on August 30, 1963.

The number one single in the UK on this day was Bad to Me by Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas. 

Mr Ottens' team of engineers were tasked with converting the bulky reel-to-reel tape recorders of the era into a more portable and consumer-friendly gadget. The end result was the cassette tape

Mr Ottens' team of engineers were tasked with converting the bulky reel-to-reel tape recorders of the era into a more portable and consumer-friendly gadget. The end result was the cassette tape

Mr Ottens’ team of engineers were tasked with converting the bulky reel-to-reel tape recorders of the era into a more portable and consumer-friendly gadget. The end result was the cassette tape

Cassette tape resurgence in popularity  

In December 2020, the British Phonographic Industry announced it expected 157,000 cassette tapes to be sold in Britain in 2020. 

This is more than twice the figure for 2019 and the highest number since 2003, when 243,000 tapes were sold and Now 54 was the year’s biggest seller on the format.

2020’s resurgence also marks the eight consecutive year in which tape sales have gown in the UK. 

It is believed its booming sales are due to Gen Z popularising the device as retro and making it desirable again as a novelty.

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Speaking in a 2013 interview with Time magazine to mark the 50th anniversary of the tape’s inception, he said it was a ‘sensation’ from the moment it was unveiled.   

Due to the public furore over this novel way of recording and listening to music, in an era where records and the radio were the only for people to hear their favourite songs, several Japanese companies started reproducing similar versions of the cassette. 

Mr Ottens as result was forced to strike a deal with Philips and Sony that saw his model become patented. 

But the true revolution came in 1979 when Sony released the Walkman, the truly portable cassette player which took the world by storm. 

Mr Ottens himself called this the ‘ideal application’ for his invention and cites the fact Sony — not Phillips — created it as one of his professional regrets.  

Aside from the development of the cassette tape, Mr Ottens was also involved in the creation of the compact disk (CD) in the 1980s in his role at Philips. 

The CD went on to supercede the tape as the go-to form of mobile music and replaced it in boomboxes, car stereos and household Hi-Fi systems. 

More than 200 billion CDs have now been sold worldwide but are falling in popularity due to the advent of MP3 players and streaming. 

Speaking in 1982, Mr Ottens famously said: ‘From now on, the conventional record player is obsolete.’

He retired four years later afterwards, concluding a carer in which he spearheaded an audio revolution. 

Mr Ottens struck a deal with Philips and Sony that saw his cassette model become patented. But the true revolution came in 1979 when Sony released the Walkman, the truly portable cassette player which took the world by storm.  Mr Ottens called this the 'ideal application' for his invention and cites the fact Sony — not Phillips — created it as one of his regrets

Mr Ottens struck a deal with Philips and Sony that saw his cassette model become patented. But the true revolution came in 1979 when Sony released the Walkman, the truly portable cassette player which took the world by storm.  Mr Ottens called this the 'ideal application' for his invention and cites the fact Sony — not Phillips — created it as one of his regrets

Mr Ottens struck a deal with Philips and Sony that saw his cassette model become patented. But the true revolution came in 1979 when Sony released the Walkman, the truly portable cassette player which took the world by storm.  Mr Ottens called this the ‘ideal application’ for his invention and cites the fact Sony — not Phillips — created it as one of his regrets

Best-selling cassette albums of 2020 

1. Lady Gaga – Chromatica

2. 5 Seconds Of Summer – Calm

3. Yungblud – Weird

4. The 1975 – Notes On A Conditional Form

5. Blackpink – The Album

6. Selena Gomez – Rare

7. Kylie Minogue – Disco

8. Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

9. Haim – Women In Music Pt III

10. The Streets – None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive

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