Side A and B, compiling a list of the titles of your old and new favourites, the long wait for your favourite singer to come out with an album to painstakingly rolling the tape over a pencil as it got entangled ndash; cassettes were one love that those growing up in the 80s and 90s swear by!

As the Dutch inventor Lou Ottens bid goodbye to this world, it brought back memories associated with cassettes.

“In the earlier times, the whole and sole way to make your talent reach the audience was via cassettes. Now with CDs, podcasts, smartphone apps, platforms like YouTube – there are several ways to reach the right ears but when T-Series was coined, the only medium was via cassettes,” opens up Bhushan Kumar, chairman and managing director, T-Series.

The life of Lou Ottens

  • Lou Ottens, the Dutch inventor of the cassette tape, has died, said Philips, the company where he also helped develop the compact disc. Ottens died Saturday at age 94.
  • A structural engineer who trained at the prestigious Technical University in Delft, he joined Philips in 1952 and was head of the Dutch company’s product development department when he began work on an alternative for existing tape recorders with their cumbersome large spools of tape. -AP

“Any singer, who has made it big has made it on basis of cassettes,” says singer Shankar Sahney. His first cassette Machli Haye Oye came when he was pursuing engineering from Chandigarh. Back home in Delhi his neighbourhood friends saw his cassette in the market and took it home. “That’s how the career started, had there been no cassettes I could not have become a singer,” says Sahney, who always picked up Sony cassettes for their quality.

The golden years
The most famous and high selling album for T-Series cassettes was for the film Aashiqui. The soundtrack album sold 20 million units which broke a record back then. It was also titled as the best selling Bollywood soundtrack album of all time! —Bhushan Kumar
Munda South Hall Da was one Punjabi private album which was sold out. more than 2 crore cassettes were registered by the company. Till Taal, which included CDs and cassettes, that was one of the biggest sales. I am indebted to Lou Ottens, who created this magical musical resource. —Sukhwinder Singh

Taking out a cassette was hard work, admits singer Hardeep Singh. “Unlike today, as artistes drop a solo track, a cassette meant painstaking selection of seven to eight numbers, for which the lyricist, director and singer worked for months.” His song Shehar Patiale De came in 1989 and was a hit. “There were fewer artistes those times and the songs had longer shelf-life. Even today when I am walking in Sector 17, I hear people say Shehar Patiale De jare hain.”

Music director Santokh Singh fondly recalls how in his starting days cassettes ruled the industry. “My first was Sawariya with Jaspinder Narula ji which was by Universal.”

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