8-Track Tape History: The Portable Music Format's Rise And Sudden Fall

By | November 29, 2020

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8-track tapes. Source: eBay

Today the 8-track tape is the ultimate in obsolete technology, but it was once a revolution in music. Music in your car, and not just any music -- you had the radio for that -- but music you chose to bring. The music you wanted to listen to, at your fingertips or (to use a term that didn't exist back then) "on demand." 8-tracks were mechanically flawed in comparison to the formats that would follow -- cassettes and CDs -- and they couldn't always present the album as it existed on vinyl. But from the late '60s through the mid-'70s, a glove box full of 8-tracks by the Stones, Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder or Joni Mitchell was a must for a smooth road trip.

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Source: Furious

The world has been evolving rapidly ever since the beginning of time when cavemen sought new methods to perform their tasks more effectively. But since the 20th Century, the advancement of technology has reached unimaginable levels of speed. This progression can be seen today with, for example, how quickly an iPhone becomes outdated when a newer version is released. This same scenario is also prevalent in the music industry. Compared to how long Earth has existed, recorded music is a relatively new feat, and in just the past couple centuries music players have drastically advanced from phonographs to tiny computers. Eight track players are a part of this history and although they are labeled today as a failed device, they dominated listening devices for a short period of time.