Who invented the 8-track?

8 tracks Elvis

(by Helmut Radermacher)


In 1973, for the first time, 8 track cassettes were also found in the offer of the company RCA, at that time still in the sales of Telefunken, later TELDEC. In the case of larger purchases, the dealer was supplied with free lockable steel shelves in which these cassettes could be placed in a clearly visible manner. However, there was no advertising for these new products, so that two years later some customers asked what it was all about. Devices for this were almost impossible to buy. And if you had one, you couldn't record it, only hear it. In addition, the retail price of 26 DM was very expensive. The same product as LP cost 22 DM at that time, the normal cassette 23 DM.

In contrast to the cassette, the enclosed tape was about twice as wide, so it was qualitatively better. You could switch to another track at the push of a button, so zapping was invented.

These "cartridges", as the Americans also call them, were an invention of, among others, RCA. The market was all about Cars, especially the trucks. Most of these devices were actually found there. This type did not catch on in other countries. And as you know, it didn't last too long in the US either. There are even clubs these days with special collectors of these 8 tracks. (Mabros Note: In this country, by the way, these 8-tracks are most widespread in Switzerland. Reason? Switzerland has the highest number of US vehicles registered. The standard for almost all of these vehicles was an 8-track player)

These cassettes were still popular on the radio until the 1990s, but since then they were unrecorded. They came in all possible lengths so that a jingle of ten seconds could be used as well as a song of three, five or seven minutes. After playing, you pressed >> forwards and the cassette stopped again at the beginning so that it could be restarted. So you could "set the points" so that there was a beginning and an end.

By the way, there were also Quadraphonic 8 tracks and there were also double 8 tracks in the USA, for example "Blue Hawaii" and "Pot Luck" on one tape. To the best of my knowledge, the USA had the first 8-track in 1970 and the last in 1981. The prices that can be achieved for normal 8-track cassettes rarely exceed $ 5.

Mabro's note: Elvis also owned an 8-track tape recorder at Graceland. The following can be found in the inventory of the estate of Elvis Presley: Master Bedroom: Zenith Chromacolor Television in a walnut cabinet, Video Cassette Recording System, Model 4270 Receiver by Marantz the turntable Dual 1225, one by United Audio and a TEACA- 450 stereo cassette deck, 2 RCA color television sets in ceiling and a SONY eight-track tape recorder.