Project C-90
December 19, 2004 6:22 AM   Subscribe

Project C-90 An impressively comprehensive archive of pictures of blank audio cassettes. Via
posted by Mwongozi (28 comments total)
oh, the photo for the boots audio c-90 is priceless. such a loving couple, all snuggly thanks to the wonder of plastic and magnetic tape floating in front of them.

weird link, but thanks.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:48 AM on December 19, 2004

How many people do I have to sign-up to receive my free blank audiocassette? I am very interested in being able to carry 90 MB (?) of music with me wherever I go.
posted by Eideteker at 7:07 AM on December 19, 2004

This brings me back.

But, no Maxell? No MAXELL?

posted by squirrel at 7:18 AM on December 19, 2004

It's only 90 MB of music if you're recording at around 128kbps. I'll record at 320kbps to be able to carry around an astounding 225 MB of music!
posted by Bugbread at 7:18 AM on December 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

but bugbread, you know that next week it'll be 256kbps, then the week after that, 128kbps, then 90kbps and so on and so forth.
posted by bigtimes at 7:21 AM on December 19, 2004

The lack of Maxell, the most over advetised blank medium ever is kind of strange (maybe not available in Europe?) is a little strange, but I certainly recognized several Maxell versions I had. I should see if I have a few their missing, I used to do a ton of taping.
posted by inthe80s at 7:54 AM on December 19, 2004

Maxell can be found under Hitachi/Maxell.
posted by darkmatter at 8:03 AM on December 19, 2004

I used to have loads of these Teac Cobalt cassettes. The 52 minute recording time was peculiar, but seemed to be quite good for vinyl a side per side... They looked cool too. (Never saw any of those "Open Tapes" though...)
posted by benzo8 at 8:08 AM on December 19, 2004

They don't have the Cadillac of blanks! Where's Tandy/Radio Shack?
posted by Smart Dalek at 8:30 AM on December 19, 2004

I used to use That's EM-Xs. It's good to see them there. I only picked them because they looked different without being contrived (to my teenage eyes). Turned out they were pretty good too.
posted by jackiemcghee at 9:13 AM on December 19, 2004

It's weird how far we've come in so short a time. Compare a Walkman with a tape, complex mechanicals with simple analog electronics, to a new iPod mini, all digital no moving parts. Of course, since my iPod is jammed with music mostly from that's from 50 to 30 years old, I'd have to say that some things have not progressed as quickly, if at all.
posted by doctor_negative at 9:37 AM on December 19, 2004

No moving parts? Is your hard drive busted?
posted by keswick at 10:36 AM on December 19, 2004

Always loved and coveted those teacs with the little open reel tapes in them. They were the demo cassette loaded into all hi-fi equipment from the time they were introduced to when DAT started to rear its head. There even existed little faux teac cobalt cases, just for use as hi-fi display accoutrements. Loved them all. benzo8, the "open reel" variety seems to have a collector's following.
posted by Pliskie at 10:47 AM on December 19, 2004

Doctor_Negative: Keswick kinda mentioned it, but only in a "you only get it if you already know the answer" kinda way (I chuckled); however, in case you don't know much about iPod and other mp3 player technology:

The large volume devices (over a gig) have very small hard drives in them, with all the attendant moving parts (the hard disk platters spin). The smaller capacity players (measured in megs) use flash or other memory, which uses no moving parts. You can do incredibly vigorous exercise with a flash based player, but with an iPod/NomadJukebox/etc., from what I gather, jogging/running is the limit.
posted by Bugbread at 10:53 AM on December 19, 2004 [1 favorite]

The Maxell XL-II or XL-IIS was my choice of tape for many years. That "Black Magnetite" tape formulation they hyped really had something to it -- newly-made recordings were virtually indistinguishable from the source material, and had a high end response vastly exceeding what I could get from other tapes. Unfortunately, this went away after a few plays, but it was heavenly while it lasted.

The Maxell Metal Vertex was also pretty cool. I only had one of them (they were expensive) but the shell was built like a tank, and it came with this cool labeling film that let you end up with gold text on a black label.
posted by kindall at 10:55 AM on December 19, 2004

great link. i have much love for the analog.
posted by blendor at 11:02 AM on December 19, 2004

Compare a Walkman with a tape, complex mechanicals with simple analog electronics, to a new iPod mini, all digital no moving parts.

The Diamond Rio was solid state and available in 1997.
posted by euphorb at 2:14 PM on December 19, 2004

The site is fascinating but I do not understand the nostalgia for analog tapes, or tapes of any kind for that matter. They were extremely sensitive to heat, cold, moisture, etc. They would get stuck or jammed and the sound quality would get damaged because of that, assuming you could even salvage the tape and spend ten minutes rewinding it with a pencil. Tape media was good when chip and hard drive alternatives were prohibitively expensive. For instance I was one of those lucky kids to have not just an Atari 2600 but the tape player accessory which allowed me to play Zaxxon and be the envy of all my friends. However, I didn't play Zaxxon much because it took nearly an hour to load!
posted by Vaska at 2:35 PM on December 19, 2004

Vaska: The charm of the mix tape is the effort it requires to create. When you make a mix disc, you list the songs in Nero or Toast or whatever, click "burn", and you're done. If you screw up, throw the disc away (CD-Rs are cheap) and make a new one. With a tape, you had to sit and listen to each song you played, and you might make a song list before you started, but you almost always adjusted it- sometimes because you realized a different song would work better, sometimes because of the "I must come as close as I can to filling each side of the tape without having the last song get cut off" issue. And then, after all that work, you'd have to be gentle with that little tape, or all your work could disappear.

And then there's nostalgia- when I think of tape, I think of hours spent crafting that perfect tape that would make me the life of party or the best boyfriend ever.

I'd never go back to tape- but I'll always think of recording a mix tape as a more intimate experience than burning a CD.
posted by dogwelder at 4:17 PM on December 19, 2004

I really think this is one of the nicest things I've seen all day.

Thanks, Mwongozi.
posted by bdave at 5:34 PM on December 19, 2004

I think you just have to have lived through the era of these tapes to understand the romantic attachment many people have to them. Obviously CD-R is superior technology, but I was imprinted with so many early-life mix-tape experiences that... sigh... CDs will never be the same. I guess someone ten years older than me (in their 40s) probably has a similar attachment to vinyl. Except that you didn't fall in love with someone and rush home to print a record for her.
posted by squirrel at 5:49 PM on December 19, 2004

Great post.

There is a Maxell XL-IIS labeled "Pink Floyd - The Wall", sitting at the bottom of a box of books somewhere in my storage, waiting to be analyzed by alien archaeologists 10,000 years from now. Let's hope they find a Nakamichi deck to go with it.
posted by aliendolphin at 9:06 PM on December 19, 2004

These alien archaeologists will probably also analyze the psychoactive compounds they find encrusted in the fingerprints on the cassette. And they'll say, "duuuuude!"
posted by squirrel at 11:52 PM on December 19, 2004

you d[o]n't fall in love with someone and rush home to print a record for her.


And I have to say if I do a CD mix it takes ages - I usually start out with about four hours of stuff which gets whittled down to just over an hour - this process can take days, or weeks, along with getting the crossfades right and everything. People may wonder why I made those particular selections but it's not for want of working on it. Tapes, on the other hand... no, I don't feel especially nostalgic about that part of tape culture.

The fact that you could cheaply record and distribute an album on cassette changed the world and paved the way for MP3, though.

(And why no EMI Soundhog cassettes, in the yellow plastic box, on the link site? Hardly exhaustive, then.)
posted by Grangousier at 12:18 AM on December 20, 2004

That's the one, squirrel, that is the one. Man, that brings back some rock and roll memories, just seeing one of those.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:53 AM on December 20, 2004

Yeah, I spent a lot of time with those Maxell XLIIs; I still have some old party tapes (I once recorded "Got to Give It Up" four or five times in a row, just to drive people crazy).

I guess someone ten years older than me (in their 40s) probably has a similar attachment to vinyl. Except that you didn't fall in love with someone and rush home to print a record for her.

No, you rushed home and made a reel-to-reel mix tape for her, at least if you were me.
posted by languagehat at 6:15 AM on December 20, 2004

I think you just have to have lived through the era of these tapes

Ha Ha! You crazy guys! You make it sound like the neolithic age--around here we just barely got out of that age. The SO only bought a CD burner about 3 months ago and we still do not have an MP3 player. Our house is buried in tapes. In fact, his Xmas gift to his dad is music on both CD and tape because his dad's car has a tape player.

I guess someone ten years older than me (in their 40s) probably has a similar attachment to vinyl.
Well, maybe. We just had a discussion yesterday about how CDs turned out to be such crap. Vinyl endured. As long as you have the equipment, you can still play albums from 50 years ago, just as you can still watch 8 mm home movies. But CDs and Videos have very short life spans.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:43 AM on December 20, 2004

Some things were cool about tapes - copying records, making mix tapes... but mostly I think it's that they're better to handle than CDs. CD's are comparatively these bulky fragile things. Cassettes you could throw on the floor of your car and if it got messed up, just make another copy, fuck it... I still do that with CDRs but they don't last long ;-). I wish sony would open up their minidisc format to burning mp3s onto. I think that'd recapture allot of the missing feel of cassettes.

Still, I'm in my early 30's and I feel more nostalgia for vinyl that cassette. Sometimes they sounded at least as good as CD (maybe they virtually exceed the 16bit limit... 24bit audio reminds me of a good record). You could buy them used for super cheap, you got huge huge artwork inside. And there was something cool about having a tangible device dragging a diamond across a surface to get you the music, and being able to see the music in the patterns of the disc. CDs are just this black box... Plus you can't turn them up to 44rpm and make them sound funny or play'em backwards!

I've always been pissed that record companies charged twice as much for a CD than a record when vinyl seems to last as long and not be significantly cheaper to make. (I have lots of worn out cds but no worn out records) They deserve getting hurt by file sharing I say.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane, nice post!
posted by RemusLupin at 9:01 AM on December 20, 2004

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