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The 'father' of both cassette and CD has died

Beobloke

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Sad news - Lou Ottens has died. He was head of Product Development for Philips and was in charge of both the compact cassette and the CD design programs.

Quite a legacy to leave.

https://hifi.nl/artikel/29825/In-memoriam-Lou-Ottens,-uitvinder-van-cassettebandje-en-compact-disc.html

Translation if your Dutch is as non-existent as mine...

It was announced today that Lou Ottens, a leading engineer who worked for Philips, has died in his hometown of Duizel at the age of 94. Ottens was at the cradle of the cassette tape and about 20 years later he was also at the cradle of the compact disc. At the time of its development, Ottens and his colleagues did not realise that the cassette tape would break through on such a massive scale. "We were like little boys having fun playing."
Lou Ottens (21 June 1926 - 6 March 2021)

Ottens was interested in technology from an early age. During World War II, as a teenager he built a radio with which he secretly listened to broadcasts of Radio Oranje. The radio had a primitive directional antenna to avoid the German jammers. After the war Ottens studied mechanical engineering at the Technical High School in Delft. To earn some extra money, he worked for three years as a design engineer in a factory for X-ray equipment. He obtained his engineering degree in 1952.

In 1952, he joined the Dutch electronics group Philips. In 1960 Ottens became head of the new Product Development department in Hasselt, Belgium. Under his leadership, the EL3585 was developed, Philips' first portable tape recorder, which sold more than a million copies. As director of Philips Audio, he presented the successor to the tape recorder in 1963. The clumsy, loose sound coils that were in use at the time were a thorn in the flesh of the born Groninger. "Mighty clumsy things, terrible to operate. I still don't understand why the reel recorder was ever a mass product," he once wrote in the Eindhovens Dagblad. No, from now on the fragile tape is safely contained in a handy, solid plastic jacket: the cassette tape.

It soon proved to be a pioneering invention, which made headlines all over the world when it was launched at the annual Funkaustellung (International Radio Exhibition in Berlin). The Philips cassette quickly became the new world standard and increased the accessibility of music worldwide. In 1968, the billionth cassette tape rolled off the assembly line. Estimates vary, but it is likely that around 100 billion cassette tapes were sold, until the invention of the compact disc - a relatively compact and robust music carrier just like the cassette tape - pushed the cassette tapes into the background. That is twenty years later. The compact disc at Philips was also developed under his leadership and subsequently became a world standard.

The optical disc with a diameter of twelve centimetres is the final result of several years of development. Philips has been working on a CD the size of a LP for some years now. With enough space for an hour of moving pictures or 48 hours of music. This optical disc the size of a LP record worked with analogue tracks. According to Ottens, however, the market was not waiting for two days of non-stop music. The disc had to be smaller and, initially, only for audio and, moreover, noise-free and digital. The man from Groningen was also right about that, because the large optical LP or picture plate was a commercial failure, but the CD was a resounding success. Philips did not know how quickly it had to scale up production of CD players and CDs. It is estimated that around 200 billion CDs have now been produced.

When he looks back on the development of the cassette tape decades later, it becomes clear that in the 1960s inventor Ottens was completely unaware of the groundbreaking research that he and his colleagues were doing. "We were little boys playing around. We didn't have the idea that we were working on something big. It was a kind of sport."

He thought the renewed popularity of the cassette tape in recent years was nonsense. "Nothing can match the sound of the CD," he told NRC Handelsblad. "The CD is absolutely free of noise and rumble. That has never been possible with tape." Also, the 'warm' sound that vinyl fans swoon over was mainly psychological, according to him. "I've made a lot of turntables and know that the distortion with vinyl is much higher. I think people mainly hear what they want to hear."

Lou Ottens died last Saturday in Huize Eresloo in Duizel. He was 94 years old.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

 

Nearly bewildered

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Sad news - Lou Ottens has died. He was head of Product Development for Philips and was in charge of both the compact cassette and the CD design programs.

Quite a legacy to leave.

https://hifi.nl/artikel/29825/In-memoriam-Lou-Ottens,-uitvinder-van-cassettebandje-en-compact-disc.html

Translation if your Dutch is as non-existent as mine...

It was announced today that Lou Ottens, a leading engineer who worked for Philips, has died in his hometown of Duizel at the age of 94. Ottens was at the cradle of the cassette tape and about 20 years later he was also at the cradle of the compact disc. At the time of its development, Ottens and his colleagues did not realise that the cassette tape would break through on such a massive scale. "We were like little boys having fun playing."
Lou Ottens (21 June 1926 - 6 March 2021)

Ottens was interested in technology from an early age. During World War II, as a teenager he built a radio with which he secretly listened to broadcasts of Radio Oranje. The radio had a primitive directional antenna to avoid the German jammers. After the war Ottens studied mechanical engineering at the Technical High School in Delft. To earn some extra money, he worked for three years as a design engineer in a factory for X-ray equipment. He obtained his engineering degree in 1952.

In 1952, he joined the Dutch electronics group Philips. In 1960 Ottens became head of the new Product Development department in Hasselt, Belgium. Under his leadership, the EL3585 was developed, Philips' first portable tape recorder, which sold more than a million copies. As director of Philips Audio, he presented the successor to the tape recorder in 1963. The clumsy, loose sound coils that were in use at the time were a thorn in the flesh of the born Groninger. "Mighty clumsy things, terrible to operate. I still don't understand why the reel recorder was ever a mass product," he once wrote in the Eindhovens Dagblad. No, from now on the fragile tape is safely contained in a handy, solid plastic jacket: the cassette tape.

It soon proved to be a pioneering invention, which made headlines all over the world when it was launched at the annual Funkaustellung (International Radio Exhibition in Berlin). The Philips cassette quickly became the new world standard and increased the accessibility of music worldwide. In 1968, the billionth cassette tape rolled off the assembly line. Estimates vary, but it is likely that around 100 billion cassette tapes were sold, until the invention of the compact disc - a relatively compact and robust music carrier just like the cassette tape - pushed the cassette tapes into the background. That is twenty years later. The compact disc at Philips was also developed under his leadership and subsequently became a world standard.

The optical disc with a diameter of twelve centimetres is the final result of several years of development. Philips has been working on a CD the size of a LP for some years now. With enough space for an hour of moving pictures or 48 hours of music. This optical disc the size of a LP record worked with analogue tracks. According to Ottens, however, the market was not waiting for two days of non-stop music. The disc had to be smaller and, initially, only for audio and, moreover, noise-free and digital. The man from Groningen was also right about that, because the large optical LP or picture plate was a commercial failure, but the CD was a resounding success. Philips did not know how quickly it had to scale up production of CD players and CDs. It is estimated that around 200 billion CDs have now been produced.

When he looks back on the development of the cassette tape decades later, it becomes clear that in the 1960s inventor Ottens was completely unaware of the groundbreaking research that he and his colleagues were doing. "We were little boys playing around. We didn't have the idea that we were working on something big. It was a kind of sport."

He thought the renewed popularity of the cassette tape in recent years was nonsense. "Nothing can match the sound of the CD," he told NRC Handelsblad. "The CD is absolutely free of noise and rumble. That has never been possible with tape." Also, the 'warm' sound that vinyl fans swoon over was mainly psychological, according to him. "I've made a lot of turntables and know that the distortion with vinyl is much higher. I think people mainly hear what they want to hear."

Lou Ottens died last Saturday in Huize Eresloo in Duizel. He was 94 years old.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
Very sad news..

 

Pete the Feet

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An article off the BBC.

Audio cassette tape inventor Lou Ottens dies aged 94 - BBC News

Interesting comment regarding Cassette and Vinyl on the opening thread.

He thought the renewed popularity of the cassette tape in recent years was nonsense. "Nothing can match the sound of the CD," he told NRC Handelsblad. "The CD is absolutely free of noise and rumble. That has never been possible with tape." Also, the 'warm' sound that vinyl fans swoon over was mainly psychological, according to him. "I've made a lot of turntables and know that the distortion with vinyl is much higher. I think people mainly hear what they want to hear."

 
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Nopiano

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I recall the story that the cassette tape was royalty free, as long any manufacturers adhered to the original spec.  I’m sure this enlightened approach is what led to its dominance.  It certainly revolutionised home recording, and later car playback, not to mention the huge uptake of portable ‘Walkman’ devices. 

 

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