The digital music revolution did a lot to change how we enjoy and experience music.
Growing up in the 80s and 90s, we had an entire infrastructure dedicated to playing back our Dinosaur Jr cassettes and CDs. Most of that world is gone. Record stores aren’t part of the mall, CD players are gone, CD visors in your parent’s minivan rest in a landfill somewhere.
I was reading this listicle of things that were part of our musical everyday a few decades ago, extinct now, and one stood out.
The struggle was real. You had an incredible disc-man with 3-second anti-skip. But your 1991 Dodge Caravan or 80s Volvo only had a cassette deck. Well hold on to your butts, because the Cassette Tape Adapter allowed you to plug you CD player into the car stereo and play your Natalie Imbruglia album.
This technology was patented in 1988 by a man named Larry Schotz. Larry was regarded as a bit of a technical wizard in the 80s. The New York Times described him in a ’88 news article as a “gifted young engineer who has lately emerged as the boy wonder of American home electronics.”
Throughout the 80s and into the 90s. Larry filed numerous patents for inventions in the realms of audio technology. He did work with FM radio, home stereo equipment, and wireless speaker technology.
But of all his many inventions, the one that I can firmly recall to use in my daily life, the Cassette Tape Adapter.
Here’s how it works according to wikipedia: A typical cassette adapter uses a single-sided writing tape head (similar to the recording head on a traditional tape deck) connected to a stereo minijack connector with a cord. The cord is connected to the device’s output (or headphones) port and the electrical signal is converted into a magnetic signal by the head. This magnetic signal is then received by the tape deck’s reading head, converted back into an electrical signal, and amplified by the sound system.
There you go kids…. if you get gifted a late 80s Honda Civic that only has a cassette deck installed and you’re like, “WTF?” You now know how you can plug your phone into your new old car.