In this 1988 photo, civil engineer Lou Ottens poses for a photo with an audio cassette. The Dutch inventor of the cassette, Ottens, died on March 6, 2021 at the age of 94, according to an announcement by the Philips company.


Philips corporate archive

From MIKE CORDER Associated Press

The Hague, Netherlands (AP) – Lou Ottens, the Dutch inventor of the cassette, the medium of choice for millions of bedroom mixed tapes, has passed away, said Philips, the company he helped develop the CD.

Ottens died on Saturday at the age of 94, Philips confirmed.

A civil engineer trained at the prestigious Delft University of Technology, he joined Philips in 1952 and was head of the Dutch company’s product development department when he began work on an alternative to existing tape recorders with their cumbersome large reels.

His goal was simple. Make tapes and their players far more portable and easy to use.

“During the development of the cassette in the early 1960s, he had a block of wood made that fit exactly in his coat pocket,” said Olga Coolen, director of the Philips Museum in the southern city of Eindhoven. “The first compact cassette should be that big, which makes it much more manageable than the bulky tape recorders used at the time.”

The end product, created in 1962, later became a worldwide hit, with more than 100 billion cassette tapes sold, many to music fans who recorded their own compilations straight from the radio. Its popularity waned with the development of the CD, an invention that Ottens also helped shape as a supervisor of a development team, Philips said.