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Nostalgic for the Cassette Tape, Old Recordable Media Companies Rebrand

Nostalgic for the Cassette Tape, Old Recordable Media Companies Rebrand (photo)

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Companies like TDK, Maxell, and 3M were once household names for the cassette tapes they made, but have struggled to remain relevant since the advent of digital media. The announcement by TDK to get back to basics with old school gear like turntables and boomboxes is not too surprising given rising consumer nostalgia, but it’s hard to say if they’re ahead of the curve or just grasping for magnetically coated plastic strips.

TDK’s global brand director sums up the impersonal nature of digital media, “People got used to digital media and the brand became less important… the perception from a consumer standpoint became ‘a DVD is a DVD,’ and a CD is a CD,” he told Variety.

Anyone who was serious about their portable music before say, 1998, will recall how different it was then. A tape wasn’t just a tape. Quality varied widely between brands and types. There were 46, 60, 90, and the epic 120 minute varieties. There were the low quality Type I’s that old people used for dictation. Type II’s were the workhorses of recorded music, and could grind away in tape decks for years before wearing out. Then there was the audiophile’s Type IV Metal, king of the cassette. You didn’t even have to look at them, you could tell which ones were Metal by feel of their weight in the dark — a handy characteristic for finding your best mix while driving, or inebriated, (or both).

Yes, those not-so-little-anymore wonders of recordable media were once omnipresent in homes, offices, and cars, strewn about back seats from coast to coast. And long after most people stopped buying new music on cassette, favoring CD’s, they were still indispensable in their role as the all-important mix tape. Remember, you couldn’t record on CD’s for about a decade after they were introduced to the general public as a viable medium to buy music on, and then it was still years before the CD-R Writer/Reader was practical — the first ones were pieces of furniture and cost like $10,000.

Making your first mixed tape was a right of passage, even an art form for some. I used to have this sweet set up in my parent’s basement with a TV, VCR, turntable, CD player, and microphone with a nice echo, all hooked up to a dual tape deck. There was no better way to put everything cool, everything I loved into one thing, than to make a mixed tape with bits from movies and stupid commentary between carefully selected tracks. It was a real, physical experience with equipment and nobs and buttons, then shared with others. No drag and drop and done laziness. If I ever made one for you, I truly loved you. I’d trade the flash memory card (brand unknown) holding 100 albums in my Blackberry for one of those great mix tapes in a heartbeat.

Clearly, TDK has market info showing there are other consumers like me out there. “We wanted to make it the things that were really lost as digital music progressed,” he added on their planned new product line. “A social experience and an interactive experience; a tape, analog, vinyl experience.”

Though they were a close second, TDK tapes weren’t my favorite, they were Denon. Oh, I had this beautiful, all white, Type IV Metal Denon cassette that held such magic. What was your favorite mix tape?

PS. Lose your mind on this TDK ad from the 80’s.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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