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With tips for Fido-friendly travel, road trips on a budget, and much more, PlanYourRoadTrip.com is our favorite new trip-planning website.
|The History of the 8-Track|
|Written by Rich Truesdell|
|Friday, 27 February 2009 08:25|
Although it was supplanted by the cassette in the early eighties, Bill Lear's 8-track revolutionized the way we listen to music in our cars.
In 1980, when I opened my car stereo store, Kartunes Mobile Electronics (KME) in Scotch Plains (later Springfield), New Jersey, one of the cornerstones of my initial marketing efforts was to sell only cassette units, no 8-Tracks. I was trying to position KME as a high-end shop, distancing my store from the local competition. This included local auto parts stores, other specialty stores, and everyone in between, such as electronics specialty retailer Lafayette Electronics. The strategy worked, the business grew over the decade, and attracted a diverse customer base in what many of us refer to as the golden age of car audio.
But what of the 8-Track units that I chose to ignore? In retrospect, they were the foundation of what became a very vibrant mobile electronics industry, one that grew exponentially in the eighties, especially after introduction of the first in-car CD players in 1984. In a search for a photograph of an underdash FM converter for "The Death of FM Radio?" blog, I stumbled across the website of William "Bill" Lear. Although probably best known as the developer of the Lear Jet, this American innovator was also the inventor of the stereo 8-Track tape and player. For a fascinating look at the development of the high fidelity audio in our cars from its earliest days, check out this article about Bill Lear's involvement in the development of the first 8-tracks and how he convinced Ford to install the units in its 1965 lineup, including the then-new Mustang.
For more information concerning the full history of the 8-Track, the early days of in-car audio, and the brave souls who still collect 8-track players and tapes visit 8-Track Heaven.