When industries submerge

This British Youtuber covers some of the same old tech areas that I cover, with the same general attitude. He doesn’t go as far back in time, but he goes much deeper than I do.

In this clip he tells about the mysterious re-emergence of tape cassettes in recent years. How did they get underway so fast when old became new again? The answer is surprising.


For the usual arbitrary reasons, prisons only allowed cassettes for many years. No 8-track, no CDs, no digital formats. And they only allowed clear cassettes in clear players, so the guards wouldn’t have to use Xrays to watch for contraband.

When cassettes lost popularity, the cassette makers realized they had a literal captive audience, so they served it. When retro became fashionable again, the assembly lines were still running, so there was no need to set up new facilities.

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‘Second life’ stories are always fascinating. Several good cars were kicked out of US by planned obsolescence, then lived a long second life in Russia or Argentina or Brazil. Coherers were replaced by crystal detectors in 1910, but returned for an encore in computer memories.

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