Lou ottens

The mystery and romance of the cassette tape

May the gods of Hiss and Compression bless Lou Ottens. As head of new product development at Phillips, the Dutch engineer invented the compact cassette in 1963 and changed music for ever. Ottens died last week at 94. A good age, and a good number. You could get a full album on each side. For many of us born in the 1970s, who came of age musically in the 1980s and 1990s, the blank cassette has an unkillable romance. We measured our lives in spools of magnetic tape: C60, C90, the occasional C46. Inside those hard plastic shells we surfed the thin end of the aural wedge, composing scrappy love