8-track

The 8-track cartridge, aka the Stereo 8, first appeared at trade shows in 1964, just 18 months after the cassette, and it did initially seem to have it all: it was comparatively small, portable, and had pretty good audio quality. And despite its roots in the Mad Men in-car market of the 1950s, it was seemingly future-proof, too, with a unique potential for quadraphonic sound (a potential later realised, in part). Within a few years various megastars were using it and it was swiftly installed in virtually every radio station in the western world—and, with rising domestic sales, it even had a massive ad campaign fronted by TV star Jimmie “Dy-no-mite!” Walker.

Yet within a few years of that expensive media blitz, the cartridge was dead in the water as far as the consumer market was concerned—and, by the mid-1990s, it was a rare antique even in broadcasting studios. What went wrong is easily explained with hindsight—though it seemed mysterious at the time… More at ars technica.

Excellent stuff, unlike the actual music format which was a little shabby.



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