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Lou Ottens, the inventor of audio cassette tape, dies at 94

Lou Ottens, the Dutch engineer who invented the audio cassette tape, passed away at the age of 94 on March 6 in Duizel, the Netherlands.

Ottens, a mechanical engineering graduate, started working at the Philips factory in Belgium in 1952. He became the head of Product Development in 1960 and within a year Ottens along with his team developed World’s first portable tape recorder.  In 1963 he invented the cassette tape and revolutionized the old reel-to-reel system. He presented the Cassette tape a compact, plastic-encased sound machine, at the Berlin Radio Show electronics fair. The invention made it easy for millions of people to listen, record, and share songs.

Soon after this, the Japanese came up with their version of the cassette. In 1964 the name ‘compact cassette’ was trademarked. He struck a deal between Sony and Philips after which, Ottens’s design became the standard cassette used worldwide.

As Philips Audio’s technical director Ottens played a key role in Sony’s and Philip’s joint venture for the development of compact discs. So far over 100 billion cassettes and 200 billion CDs have been sold worldwide. He retired from his job in 1986.

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