Welcome to Hell, here's your 8-Track

Neil Postman once said, 

"Anyone who has studied the history of technology knows that technological change is always a Faustian bargain: Technology giveth and technology taketh away, and not always in equal measure. A new technology sometimes creates more than it destroys. Sometimes, it destroys more than it creates. But it is never one-sided."

I'm pretty sure that we know that the 8-track was more bad than good.

Question for audiophiles here who might know -- was there anything good about 8-track technology that was lost when it went extinct? And what was that good, audio-wise, specifically?



What other audio technology allows you to listen to two songs at the same time? Yes, 8-tracks were portable, but you always needed a matchbook handy to tweak the head position.


The worst consumer audio format ever, and by a wide margin.



They were primarily intended for use in automobiles and were an enormous improvement over the expensive turntables available for cars that would skip on smooth roads, much less bumpy ones. Those played the bottom side of a 45.

The tape was a continuous loop that came off the inside and then wrapped around the outside. Hard on the tape but an ingenious design courtesy of Bill Lear.

The original Learjet tape housings were assembled with screws and could be internally cleaned. Later cartridges were hard to open without destroying them. Head azimuth was a real problem, very few playback decks had adjustable azimuth to minimize crosstalk and improve treble response. The matchbook system mentioned above was much more common.

They had a pretty short heyday, like many others I switched to a Sony cassette player in 1970 or ’71.

Lear was an incredible guy, struck out repeatedly but hit some homers, too. Motorola and Learjet did pretty well. Motorola made the first car radios; people said they would distract drivers and cause wrecks. The 8 track was a segue from his car radio concept of the 1930s. When he died he was working on a steam automobile project.

The 8-Track was pretty much responsible for me coming close to acing my ACT/SAT tests.

Remembering which matchbook(s) and where to place it/them for each 8-Track (while stoned) was quite a mental workout.




missing ehen it went extinct?

I don’t believe that intelligent individuals ponder this.