Lou Ottens, Father of Countless Mixtapes, Is Dead at 94

Red Falcon

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Lou Ottens, Father of Countless Mixtapes, Is Dead at 94

4891875_bc2b60eb-d0f9-4913-b613-f8d45eb09f36-jumbo.jpg
Lou Ottens in 1988, 25 years after he led the team that introduced the cassette tape to the world.
RIP, and thanks for all of the great memories surrounding cassette tapes throughout the years. 🪦
 
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Wow, grew up in the 80's and conducted countless tape recovery surgeries to get my favorite tapes playing again!
RIP Mr Ottens
 

Comixbooks

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s-l1600.jpg

Found some on ebay I wouldn't trust these even back then stuff just shreads.
 
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Aurelius

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Single-handedly kept Ticonderoga and BIC in business.

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It still baffles me how much people were willing to tolerate just to play music. If you had a Walkman, you had to worry not only that a bump would interrupt your music, but that it'd require a pencil fix or even break the tape. And there were weirder issues; I remember listening to U2's Achtung Baby on a portable cassette player as a kid (I forget if it was a Walkman) and wondering why it sounded odd... turns out a low battery could mess with a tape's playback speed.

That probably helps explain why I'm not very nostalgic for cassettes, vinyl or other analog media, even as much as I appreciate what they did. Go back to the "good old days?" Nope. I got an iPod as soon as I could justify one and didn't look back. Give me streaming and downloads all day, every day.
 

funkydmunky

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And provided the first affordable re-writable storage medium that allowed PC users in the 8-bit era to separate from the cartridge based consoles and evolve into what we know and love today.
 

cybereality

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Walkmans and tapes were still king even after CDs came out.

I used to skateboard back then, and the portable CD players always skipped, even the sports ones with memory weren't much better.
 

SmokeRngs

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Walkmans and tapes were still king even after CDs came out.

I used to skateboard back then, and the portable CD players always skipped, even the sports ones with memory weren't much better.
They also tended to chew through batteries at a faster rate compared to a Walkman and scratched the shit out of the CDs.
 

HeadRusch

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Every 8 track I recall hearing sounded muffled and muted, probably more the quality of 8 track equipment than the tapes themselves, but to a young kid like me cassettes had "high end treble" that 8 tracks never seemed to have. I've watched a few TechMoan videos about this, I'm assuming it was the equipment and recording standards of the 70's at fault there.
CD's were expensive in the mid to late 80's and most of us mortals had to convert to cassette anyhow in order to listen in our cars when CD players and decks were still crazy expensive, and skipped anyhow. Cassettes were the thing...at least until you got lazy and left them in the car for a few hot summer weeks, then they inevitably sounded like warbly 8 tracks again :p
 

jfreund

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And there were weirder issues; I remember listening to U2's Achtung Baby on a portable cassette player as a kid (I forget if it was a Walkman) and wondering why it sounded odd... turns out a low battery could mess with a tape's playback speed.

The intro to "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" on Van Halen I always used to make me think there was something wrong with my tape player. After the internet became a thing I read that Eddie was just out of tune when he recorded it.
 

GotNoRice

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I had a pretty good experience overall with tapes when I was a kid. It's really the only format for which I ever actually bought music on a physical medium. But usually either me or my friend would buy a tape and then the other would just make a copy. Even when CDs started becoming mainstream, I never bought any. I bought a discman and used it with a tape-adapter in my dual-cassette boombox to make tape copies of other people's CDs and then just used the tape copy. That pretty much lasted me until Napster at which point I just burned my own CD-Rs.
 

jfreund

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I had a pretty good experience overall with tapes when I was a kid. It's really the only format for which I ever actually bought music on a physical medium. But usually either me or my friend would buy a tape and then the other would just make a copy. Even when CDs started becoming mainstream, I never bought any. I bought a discman and used it with a tape-adapter in my dual-cassette boombox to make tape copies of other people's CDs and then just used the tape copy. That pretty much lasted me until Napster at which point I just burned my own CD-Rs.
 

Aurelius

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ChadD

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The funny thing is that I only ever saw a computer cassette drive once, at a relative's place. It was a TRS-80, I think. Even when I was little, the vast majority of the computers I saw were using floppies (and eventually hard drives).
You have dated yourself. lol Ya they where only really around for a short period.
 

funkydmunky

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The intro to "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" on Van Halen I always used to make me think there was something wrong with my tape player. After the internet became a thing I read that Eddie was just out of tune when he recorded it.
And they never played it back in the studio? Maybe out of tune but sure they heard it and liked it, so it stayed.
 

painintheworld

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The funny thing is that I only ever saw a computer cassette drive once, at a relative's place. It was a TRS-80, I think. Even when I was little, the vast majority of the computers I saw were using floppies (and eventually hard drives).
My experience was the opposite. In Eastern Europe the guys were still using tape drives into the 90s with various 8 bit systems. I used an Atari 410 tape recorder with an Atari 8 bit computer until 1987 (it sucked really bad!). Thankfully, at school we only used tape drives from 1979 until spring 1983, when we got some new Tandy Model 4 machines with dual 5-1/4" drives.
 

funkydmunky

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My experience was the opposite. In Eastern Europe the guys were still using tape drives into the 90s with various 8 bit systems. I used an Atari 410 tape recorder with an Atari 8 bit computer until 1987 (it sucked really bad!). Thankfully, at school we only used tape drives from 1979 until spring 1983, when we got some new Tandy Model 4 machines with dual 5-1/4" drives.
And anyone using a C64 with crap 1541's? might as well have been using tape :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:
 

funkydmunky

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I remember getting a game loading on tape on my old Atari 800 then going to play outside for 30 mins while it loaded. Maybe that's why we weren't so fat back then :D
To play a game was a minor commitment. One thought things out unlike today where we are given so much choice at out finger-tips for instant gratification.
 

Mazzspeed

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I could get great results out of quality CrO2 or metal tapes with the right source material, bias adjustment, noise reduction usage, HX Pro and record level adjustment. I think anyone stating that the metal bias option made music sound 'muddy' is confusing metal bias controls with Dolby NR on poor quality pre recorded cassettes (not one of which sounded in any way good at all).

Furthermore, using S-JiffyDOS, my 1541's get speeds of ~5300 bytes per second - Around 13x faster than a standard 1541 with perfect compatibility. :p
 

n0ob3r

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A Sad Day. =(

I will have to explain what these are to my kids some time.
 

cybereality

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I was a big fan of MiniDiscs. I wish they had caught on. As a physical format they really felt like the future.

I had this one. I got it used, and this was around the time right before the iPod came out, so it was dated even then, but I loved it.

1616283454650.png
 

Mazzspeed

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I was a big fan of MiniDiscs. I wish they had caught on. As a physical format they really felt like the future.

I had this one. I got it used, and this was around the time right before the iPod came out, so it was dated even then, but I loved it.

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I used to have a MiniDisc deck. It was a good format, in many ways I sorta regret selling it.
 

painintheworld

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And anyone using a C64 with crap 1541's? might as well have been using tape :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO:
True that! I never owned a C64 or C128 back in the day, but did have occasion to use one with a 1541. Good God, is it ever bad. Damned shame Commodore didn't spend the literal pennies per machine to rectify the shift register issue. It wouldn't have been a speed demon, but would have been much more pleasant to use. It certainly worked out for Epyx and the tens and tens of thousands of Fast Load cartridges they sold.

When I finally got a 1050 floppy drive for my Atari 8 bit, it was modified with the Happy upgrade and it was a rocket relative to the stock 1050, and was otherworldly compared to the C1541. These days when I use floppy drives with my Atari machines, it is almost always an Indus GT - the nicest, coolest, and best looking floppy drive ever made for those old machines. I still use a physical Atari 8 bit a couple of times per week and use an old laptop as multiple floppy drives via an SIO2USB cable at 125 kilobits per second. It is pretty close analog to using an old 4,200 RPM spinning rust drive (C64 with C1541 drive) and switching to an NVME SSD in the same system.

It is amazing at how much development is still going on with these 8 bit machines, particularly the Commodore 64. Cross development tools running on a Windows or Linux PC/Mac, alongside SD card storage systems for easy transfer of files (or directly connecting the new and old machines) has been a cause a mini-boon. The quality of some of the newly released games would have made their authors very wealthy in the early 80s (AtariBlast! on the Atari 8 bit machines for example).
 

mustang_steve

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I miss my old Sony TC-WE305. Type IV cassettes were a magical experience when you're a teenager of the 90s and can't afford a collection of CDs....borrow and dub.
 

1_rick

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an Indus GT - the nicest, coolest, and best looking floppy drive ever made for those old machines
Just dropping in to register agreement--I had one of those back in the day with my 400. I'm not sure I agree with the "for those old machines" qualifier, though.

While looking for a picture just now I ran across a forum post from 2018 where someone created a daughterboard for the GT that would let you run CP/M on the disk drive's controller and use your Atari as a terminal.
 

Okatis

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I saw this headline two different places and didn't click since I wasn't interested in what I thought was about a guy who made mixtapes but finding he led the cassette's invention is more much interesting.
 
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