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8-track tape


8-track tape


Period of Production:
1964 – 1988

Part of Collection:


The 8-track tape cartridge consists of a case holding a spool of magnetic tape. As a medium for the reproduction of sound, it was popular in several countries, most notably the United States, until the mid-1970s. The method of storing the tape, coiled around a single mount (as opposed to two mounts in the compact cassette), resembles the mechanism employed in the Tefifon plastic tape player. However, the Tefifon relies on the mechanical storage of vibrations in a groove, thus following a line of technological development that goes back to the earliest sound-reproducing media in the nineteenth century, whereas the 8-track tape uses magnetic recording, which links it to the majority of today’s storage media. In this regard, the 8-track tape is a descendant of such technologies as the wire recorder and, ultimately, Valdemar Poulsen’s Telegraphon of 1898, an early electronic sound-recording device.


Contemporary article describing the Telegraphon at the Exposition Universelle in Paris (in German): August Foerster, “Das Telegraphon,” in Die Pariser Weltausstellung in Wort und Bild, ed. Georg Malkowsky (Berlin: Kirchhoff, 1900), 398

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