It’s hard to remember a time where our musical picks weren’t contained in a Spotify playlist. But just a few years ago, we were still preserving our audio masterpieces on cassette tapes. Tapedeck.org is a project of a German graffiti artist named Neck, who has been collecting images of these analogue gems from another era.
According the site, the cassette tape was first launched by Philips in 1963, branded as a “compact cassette” made for home recordings. The magnetic tape encased in plastic was seen as an early alternative to vinyl; it even had two sides, just like a record. Although tapes became more popular with the introduction of portable music players like the Walkman, the format was not designed for music so the sound quality wasn’t particularly good — until the invention of Dolby’s noise-reducing technology, which is why you’ll see plenty of Dolby logos on later tape designs.
The collection features hundreds of brands, from early models made in Germany where the first cassette tapes were mass-produced, to the last mainstream gasps of the technology in the 1990s (but you can still buy them). What’s also beautiful is watching how so many of the tech giants today got their start slinging chrome-coated tape.
The real finds in the Tapedeck.org collection, of course, are when you stumble upon tapes with writing on them:
Gerry Rafferty RIP!
What’s funny is just how closely I can relate some of the branding to my own mixtapes, like how I can remember scrawling “Summer ’91” on the yellow sticker of the Memorex tape below. You might have similar sensations. I plucked a few that prompted audio memories or just jumped out at me visually, but head over to the collection and drop some of your favourites in the comments. Oh, and if you’re really feeling nostalgic, you can get your favourite tape put on a t-shirt. [Tapedeck.org]