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Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Remember Microcassettes? They were a dictation medium (but so was the original compact cassette) Invented in 1969 by Olympus as the standard cassette started gaining traction as a popular music medium.

For a spell in the early '80s, Sony actually tried to make them as close to a serious audio medium as they could (as they did with the standard cassette.) Including stereo sound and Metal tape formulation microcassettes.

The Microcassette Walkman even included a very rare microcassette version of the FM Tuner cassettes made for standard cassette personal stereos.
They failed. Obviously. Because no matter what they did, an analog tape rolling at 15/16th inches per second will never sound very good no matter what kind of tape you use (cassettes used 1 7/8 IPS, 8-Tracks 3 3/4 IPS)

In modern digital, It's like the sound of a 32 kbps MP3 to a 320 kbps MP3.

And secondly, people kept LOSING the handful of prerecorded albums on these tapes that were made for the Japanese market.

The Microcassette never went further into general use beyond dictation and in telephone answering machines. They have since been replaced by digital recorders.

Competing with the Microcassette (yes, it did have competing formats), was the Minicassette (developed in 1967 by Phillips) and the even tinier Picocassette (1985 by Dictaphone.)




  1. No doubt you've seen some microcassette boomboxes, too. Just for fun, I once got one from Sharp at a flea market. It had a detachable microcassette recorder, AM/FM radio and 3" black and white TV. To paraphrase the old slogan, "From Sharp minds come useless products."

  2. I have! And they were stereo too. Not very good on the tape end with microcassettes being what they were. It really was a silly gimmick. But hey, if it weren't for silly gimmicks, I wouldn't have a blog! Cheers!

  3. I still have one, in this case under the Fisher name. (Had Sanyo eaten up Fisher by this period?) Same deal - not very large boom box thing with a pop out stereo micro cassette. Even has a stereo microphone on the pop out player/recorder. The AM/FM in the boom box is actually quite good. The sound of music on the micro cassette doesn't even rise to AM radio level quality. It's truly terrible.


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