Lou Ottens, the Philips engineer who invented the cassette tape, has died

Lou Ottens worked his way up the ranks at Philips, eventually overseeing the company’s new product R&D division. He led development of the company’s first portable tape recorder, the EL 3585. The success of that machine prompted Philips to create a portable cassette recorder and design their own cassettes, which were created by Ottens.
Dutch engineer and inventor Lou Ottens, best known for inventing the cassette tape, died on March 6. He was 94.

Lodewijk Frederik Ottens was born on June 21, 1926, and exhibited an interest in technical matters at an early age. After World War II, he attended the Delft University of Technology, graduating in 1952 and landing a job with Philips that same year.

The compact cassette was introduced in 1963 and became a staple in the music industry. Cassettes reached peak popularity in the 70s and 80s thanks to their compact size, ease of copying and general durability. Ultimately, they’d give way to the compact disc, an optical disc tech that Philips co-developed with Sony.

Audio cassettes staged a bit of a comeback a few years ago, provoking some to release new hardware for the medium, like this Bluetooth cassette player.