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Remembering the good old days of the cassette car radio adapter

Nothing signifies the end of this decade better than remembering one of its greatest inventions–the car cassette tape adapter. Before this shiny era of Bluetooth pairing and playback using a USB cable, before even CD players existed, the trusty cassette adapter saved us.

If you’re lucky enough to have forgotten about this device until just now too, join us on a look back into our evolution of listening to music in cars. 

Humble Beginnings: Radio in the Car

Dating all the way back to the 1930s, Motorola began installing some of the earliest car radios. These radios were only equipped with the most basic monophonic radio functions. Eventually, the functionality expanded with the growth of the radio as a means of communication, including FM stereo sound. 

The ’70s and ’80s saw the advent of the beloved 8 track tape player. Finally, commuters could choose their own music on the road. Albeit not without their fair share of problems, 8 tracks revolutionized how millions of people listen to music.  

Cassette tape players stole the spotlight next in the evolution, as the technology smoothed out and improved over a shorter span of time. The era of cassette tapes and mixes was a nostalgic time for us, see “Have We Lost Something with Digital Music?” CD players dove in next, as a lighter and more sturdy alternative to cassette players that easily tangled and wore down. The rise of the internet and streaming services have made Bluetooth and USB pairing the pinnacle of in-car music playback. 

Our closest friend, the cassette adapter

It was only a matter of time before the cassette adapter consoled those of us with old, outdated cars. This device worked without even really using the tape that contributed to its ancestor’s downfall. Used to amplify electromagnetic analog signals to the stereo, it limited the static in the background of tapes. 

Other adapter cousins sprung up, like the FM radio adapter, but the cassette proved to be the most convenient. As technology has rapidly progressed, it’s good for the soul to look back at what created a generation of aux cord snobs. 

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