Rewind: Cassette Tape Turns 50 Years Old Today, Still Enjoying Retirement

Historians can argue the exact date of the compact cassette tape's birth, but as far as Philips is concerned, it was on this day in 1963 when the company first launched the format at its headquarters in Amsterdam. It's hard to believe it's been that long, but that makes the compact cassette 50 years old today.

"This month, Philips, the innovator behind compact cassette technology, celebrates the cassette’s golden anniversary. That’s 50 years of playing, recording, fast forwarding, rewinding and flipping the tape," Philips said.

"As a company rooted in continuing our commitment to meaningful innovation, few inventions have been as culturally meaningful in the last 50 years as the compact cassette," Philips added. "It provided a portable and inexpensive way to capture moments in time and ultimately, helped shape the music industry, popular culture, politics, and the way we live today."

Cassette Player

The compact cassette descended from the 8-track, a format that also used magnetic tape only it was much bigger and comparatively unwieldy. Philips originally invented the compact cassette to replace reel-to-reel tape for dictation, but it became most widely used for music. Depending on your age, you or your parents probably still own a mixed tape tucked away in a shoebox somewhere.

Advances in technology have since rendered the compact cassette mostly obsolete, yielding first to compact discs (CDs) and then digital file formats like MP3.