That today marks the 50th birthday of Philip’s cassette tape is a bit of shock for me. Has that once dominant form but now almost forgotten audio technology really been around that long ?
From Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877 to RCA Victor’s release of the first 45 rpm single in 1949, the cassette tape in 1963 by Philips, the Compact Disc in 1982 and finally digital file formats such as MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (MP3), the time for a technology to rise to ubiquity then fall to obscurity is becoming shorter and shorter; a stark illustration of the ever accelerating compression of the merciless cycle of disruptive innovation.
Few noticed that Apple at their iPhone 5S and 5C product launch this past Tuesday confirmed that the iPod would continue production without an update. The iPod device, first introduced in 2007 and which arguably popularized the use of digital music files which hasten the demise of the Compact Disc format, is clearly on its last legs. From nothing to the industry standard and back to nothing industry in only 6 years. It will not even reach it’s tenth birthday let alone celebrate a 50th.