The honor unfolded on Friday after the death of Dutch engineer Lou Utens, who invented the audio cassette at the age of 94 and helped make the CD.
Cassettes, made by Ottens in collaboration with electric giant Philips, made music truly portable for the first time and allowed a generation of audiophiles to create mixtapes of their favorite songs.
Over 100 billion versatile yet incredibly easy to decipher cassettes were produced worldwide during its heyday from the 1960s to the 1980s, and has even seen a revival in recent times.
“We are all saddened by the news of the death of Le Utens,” said Olga Cullen, director of the Philips museum in Eindhoven, in a press release from Agence France-Presse.
“Luo was an extraordinary man who loved technology, even though his inventions had humble beginnings.”
Phillips said he died on March 6 in the village of Duisel near the Belgian border.
Born in 1926 in the Dutch town of Bellingold, Utens showed an interest in technology at an early age during Nazi Germany’s occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.
The Dutch newspaper “NRC” reported that it had built a radio station to receive the “free Dutch” radio “Oranje” with a special antenna called the “Germanin filter” because it could avoid Nazi interference.
Ottens joined Philips after studying engineering at university, where he and his team developed the world’s first portable tape recorder, according to Philips.
But discouraged by the cumbersome pulley system that had to be manually wound up, he invented the cassette in 1962.
“The tape was invented out of dissatisfaction with the current tape recorder, it’s that simple,” NRC said, citing Autence in an interview.
– ‘Wood block’ –
Colin said the technology that enabled portable cassette players and filled millions of teenage rooms with music started in the most humble way.
“During the development of the cassette in the early 1960s, (Utens) made a block that slipped neatly into his jacket pocket.”
“It was the size of the first compressed tape, which made it much more accessible than the bulky recorders used at the time.”
Unfortunately, Colin added, the historic prototype of the block was lost “when Luo used it to support his hoist while changing the flat tire.”
Utens then led the CD development team then produced by Philips and Japanese electronics giant Sony.
Philips said more than 200 billion CDs have been produced since then.
After being deposited in the trash of musical history, the bands have recently made a comeback.
Sales of albums on cassettes in the United States increased 23% in 2018, according to Nielsen Music Tracker, from 178,000 copies the previous year to 219,000 copies.
Despite being the unsung hero of the music world, Utens’ career has not been without frustration.
Sony not only released their first CD before Philips, but also produced the popular Walkman which changed the way people listen to music – years later he said “it still hurts not to have one” .