Check the Ampex list archives, Richard. I once linked to the article which documented the first year
CD's outsold cassettes. I think it was early 1990's. The format seemed to die off rapidly after
that. I think the CD's out-selling cassettes coincided with widely-available and cheap CD walkmans
and the switchover to CD players being standard in most cars.
I agree with the other guys that cassette is not yet a dead format, but it's really close.
Audiobooks went entirely to CD, CDR and digital download several years ago. But I think there are
still large-scale duping operations and millions of cassettes sold in some 3rd world markets.
The way I remember it, the Walkman was introduced 1979 or so (I had an original first-edition-in-USA
Sony Walkman and it was about the coolest thing a 13-year-old gadget geek could want). By the very
early 80's, Walkmans and Walkman-wannabes were cheap and massively available. If I recall correctly,
cassettes out-sold LPs by the mid-80's (I also found a date an source and posted to the Ampex list a
few years back), but it might have been the late-80's. Can you believe there was a period of years
when crapola-junk-sound duped cassettes were the main consumer-release format in the USA?
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard L. Hess" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, December 30, 2009 4:59 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Media Timeline - Historical Assistance Please
> Thanks, everyone, for the comments on- and off-list...and Happy New Year!
> Hello, Jack,
> Let's look at the cassette dates.
> 1963 is well-documented
> 1970 is somewhat arbitrary and based on personal recollection
> 1978 as Dominant is based on the introduction of the Nakamichi 1000 plus one year
> and one year before the introduction of the Walkman (which also supported
> the format) -- so it was splitting the difference between 1977 and 1979
> 1993 as the beginning of the decline was the year that the
> Nakamichi Dragon was discontinued (1982-1993) and the year the CR7
> was discontinued (1986-1993), although the peak year for portable cassette
> machine sales was 1994 with 18 million sold, but I suggest that the demise of
> the high-end gear was more telling.
> 2002 as the beginning of the niche market was the year Nakamichi stopped
> making cassette decks. I recall being somewhat shocked between the late
> 1980s and the late1990s when walking into a Circuit City looking for cassette
> decks at the lack of choices available. Certainly, the cassette was no longer
> important for music distribution -- which is the basis of this as opposed to
> dictation. Audio books beg the issue, but...
> 2008 was chosen as the "end" because of the NY Times article
> "Say So Long to an Old Companion: Cassette Tapes"
> By ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN, Published: July 28, 2008
> This article also says that in 2006, cassettes only accounted for 7% of all
> sales in the $923 million audio book industry.
> Tascam is currently selling one cassette deck, and, sadly, it's not even their flagship
> 122-series, long the mainstay of news/broadcast/recording studios and some transfer facilities.
> Rather, it is the dual-well 202 MK V. At least both decks record on this one. This is a two-head
> machine and does not offer any bias setting (as did a similar Kenwood deck I bought in the late
> 1980s that made great tapes).
> Marantz no longer offers any cassette machines, and they were once the mainstay of event
> Sony sends you to retailers and doesn't even bother listing the products on their website. I
> suspect that the retailers are cleaning out the distribution channels at this point.
> Anyway, I don't know how to pick the end date of a format with any precise accuracy as there are
> always a few hangers-on.
> My goal here is to define widespread release of new entertainment content in the format and while
> LPs are not widespread, I think we're seeing more entertainment in that format than in cassettes.
> My major interest in this research project is music entertainment.
> I see Tim's point, too, but I don't know. Most duplicators and duplicator suppliers I've dealt
> with have stopped stocking product and or shut down.
> I could keep it as a niche product, I guess. The NYT article, cited above, suggested that even the
> then-diehard users thought they'd be out of cassettes by 2011.
> Thanks and Happy New Year!
> At 03:42 PM 2009-12-30, jack palmer wrote:
>>I wonder about the cassette tape use. Many radio shows are still copied and sold in that format
>>although MP3s are taking over a lot of it now. I would say it was still a niche use. At least
>>for another year or so. Jack
>>>cassette Developed 1963 Major 1970 Dominant 1978 Decline 1993 Niche 2002 Ended 2008
>>Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
>>Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
>>Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
>>Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.