Lou Ottens, the inventor of the cassette tape, has died at age 94.
While working as an engineer for the Dutch-based Phillips in the 1960s, Ottens came up with the idea for the format to counter large reel-to-reel tapes that were not consumer-friendly. While lacking the same fidelity as reel-to-reels and vinyl, the format proved to be a big hit thanks to its economical price, portability and ability for users to record their own material.
He later helped bring to market consumer compact discs (CDs), a format that significantly improved audio fidelity and impacted the popularity of cassette tapes.
Ottens was the subject of a 2016 documentary, Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape, directed by Zack Taylor. Looking back on his invention, he quipped, “We expected [cassette tapes] to be a success, but not a revolution.”