by Vito Lucia, The Chicago Times
NETHERLANDS – Lou Ottens, inventor of the cassette tape, passed away Saturday at age of 94 according to electronics giant Philips. The Dutch inventor had a stellar and long career with the multinational conglomerate since the 1950s.
As a teenager in occupied Netherlands, Ottens built a radio to listen to Radio Oranje broadcasts from Allied radio station. To evade Nazi radio jammers, Otten constructed a directional antenna. After the war, Ottens attended university and graduated as a mechanical engineer in 1952.
Ottens joined Philips in the 1950s and, as a development team supervisor, helped usher in the Philips cassette system in the early 1960s. The compact cassette revolutionized the portable music industry not to mention the home recording hobby. How many of us growing up in the 1980s and 90s recorded mixed tapes and radio show demos?
It was the combination of simple sturdy design and the invention of reliable battery-operated recording and playing devices that lead the to the market domination of the compact cassette. Prior to the compact cassette, recording and listening depended on fragile records or cumbersome tape spools.
However, Ottens believed the compact cassette was only the beginning. Ottens also contributed to the invention of the compact disc. Although not always pocket friendly, the compact disc was and still is a durable recording and listening format. We will never forget the easy recording and playability of the compact cassette as we recorded late into the night, and we will never forget Lou Ottens. Thank you Mr. Ottens, farewell my friend.