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

By Emily Morenz
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.