Lou Ottens, the Dutch engineer credited with inventing the cassette tape and playing a major role in the development of the first CD, has died aged 94 at his home in the village of Duizel in North Brabant.Ottens became head of Philips' product development department in 1960, where he and his team developed the cassette tape.
In 1963, it was presented at the Berlin Radio electronics fair and soon became a worldwide success.
His goal was simple. Make tapes and their players far more portable and easier to use. A structural engineer who trained at the prestigious Technical University in Delft, he joined Philips in 1952 and was head of the Dutch company's product development department when he began work on an alternative for existing tape recorders with their cumbersome large spools of tape.
The cassette tape was Ottens' answer to the large reel-to-reel tapes that provided high-quality sound but were seen as too clunky and expensive. He took on the challenge of shrinking tape technology in the early 1960s, when he became the head of new product development in Hasselt, Belgium, for the Dutch-based Philips technology company.
"Lou wanted music to be portable and accessible," said documentary filmmaker Zack Taylor, who spent days with Ottens for his film Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape.
I would say it championed three qualities. Portability. Affordability. Disposability. Ah well, the last mentioned is not exactly a quality. Be that as it may, the tape changed the music game for decades. With the death of its inventor, Lou Ottens, a chapter in music history has ended.
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