Bad 70s Technology (part 1)

Led Zeppelin IV Eight-Track

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The Much-Maligned Eight-Track Tape

Doomed to the scrap heap of obsolescence, this one easily falls into the category of "Well... It seemed like a good idea at the time..." Of our fairly substantial eight-track library, which at one time included such classics as KISS ALIVE! and the first BOSTON album, only three tapes survive.

From Wikipedia: "... some of the inherent deficiencies of the Stereo 8 format that contributed to its decline:

  • High wow and flutter due to the constantly changing load presented by the sliding tape pack
  • Tendency to jam as the tape got dirty, the lubricant wore away, and the tape was exposed to heat
  • Flattening of the pinch roller, over time, when a cartridge was left plugged in, causing increased wow and flutter
  • Inability to attain and maintain head alignment due to the movable head design.

"... by the late 1970s, when sales of eight-tracks slipped, (record companies) were quick to abandon the format..."

There were, of course, other factors that contributed to the demise of the eight-track — not the least of which was the fact that record companies often had to resort to outright butchery in order to fit an entire album on a tape: note that "Rock and Roll" on the Zeppelin eight-track has been split into two parts — it just fades out in the middle of the song, then clicks over to part two. As if no one would notice!

Then again, pulling apart and removing the guts out of a busted 8-track cartridge often provided a jim-dandy place to hide your stash. Yeah, kinda miss the 70's.

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