Lou Ottens aged 94 dies – He will live on in our Memorex

Lou Ottens the Engineer who is credited with inventing the audio cassette and was instrumental in the invention of the CD, has died aged 94. He died in his home village of Duizel, North Brabant in Holland.

Being curious about radios and transmission from an early age, he would play around with radio kits and this came into its own, during the war time. Ottens built his own radio receiver with a directional antennae, which he named the ‘german filter’, because it could avoid the jammers of the Nazis and his parents were able to listen to radio orange.

Ottens left school and went on to become an engineer, he worked for Phillips in Belgium and within less than a decade was made head of development, in the companies new department, where he and his team built the first tape recorder.

At the time the recording devices were big and klunky, with large spools, to the annoyance of ottens. Frustrated by this, he was determined to create a micro compactable version, something which could fit in a pocket and sometime after the audio cassette was invented.
The audio cassette was revealed at an electronic fair in Berlin in 1963. the tag line ‘Smaller than a pack of cigarettes’ and cheap.
Soon after, photographs, which had somehow been taken and were smuggled out of the country (espionage worthy of a James Bond plot), without knowledge of otten, ended up making it to Japan.
Crude copies of the cassette begun to flood the market and not long after ottens made agreement with electrical giant Sony, for the patented rights to make the cassette as standard.

The culture of the mixtape was born.

Most of generation x who grew up with a love for music, would spend hours listening to favourite tracks on the radio, attempting to record and edit out the voice of the DJ, so they could play back the cassette with compilations of their own favourite tracks.
Almost everyone, at some time or other will have done the right of passage of picking up the tape as it got stuck/jammed in the recording mechanism and then laboriously and lovingly, with use of a pencil, or pen, spent what felt like a full evening reeling the cassette back in.

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