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A cassette tape is a small, rectangular, plastic cartridge containing a length of magnetized audio-tape. A tape player “reads” the magnetized strip and plays back the recorded audio through a speaker, while a tape recorder imprints audio onto the tape. Like records, tapes have an “A Side” and a “B Side,” each containing 30 to 45 minutes of audio. Cassette tapes revolutionized the recording industry and helped create a new consumer culture based on the ability to alter, remix, and re-create mass-produced media.

Although the cassette tape as we know it today was introduced by the Dutch electronics company Philips in 1963, the process for recording audio on magnetic tape was invented in 1878 by Oberlin Smith. After seeing Thomas Alva Edison’s first phonograph, Smith postulated ...

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