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Re: [ARSCLIST] Obsolete audio cassette formats query

Hi, Sarah,

I have an RCA cartridge if you want to have one for show and tell.

One thing to remember, is at least the RCA cartridge used 1/4-inch tape,
ran at 3.75 in/s and used the standard 1/4-track stereo format with tracks
1 & 3 being left and right on each side.

The tapes come out nicely with a special threading pattern on my APR-5003s
and then I play them like any other 1/4-track tape, though they do have
artifacts from poorly seated cartridges.

I don't know the track format of the Revere cartridge,  but I suspect that
it, too, is a 1/4-track stereo format. It was single spool (like
DLT/S-AIT/LTO data tape today) and about 3-4 inches square-ish.

I am unaware of the Garrard and CBS systems. Please tell me more.

Prior to the 8-track, there was the Muntz 4-track in a cartridge similar to
an NAB broadcast cartridge. The NAB broadcast cartridge was in use for many
years and was available in both mono and stereo, both with a cue track.
Pacific Recorders and Engineering (now part of Harris) made a product
called "TomCat" that used wider heads for the audio and a narrower cue-tone

4-track (Muntz) and NAB cartridges had pinch roller in the machine,
8-tracks had pinch roller in the cartridge.

The stereo NAB cartridges used 3 tracks about 42 mils wide. The mono NAB
cartridge used two 82 mil tracks just like 2-track tape.

I might be able to get you an NAB cartridge as a sample.

I just missed a Muntz cartridge on eBay -- but it was Beatles, so the price
was higher than it needed to be.



At 10:20 AM 6/18/2003 -0400, you wrote:
In Alan Ward's "A Manual of Sound Archive Administration" there are
references to the beginnings of the audio cassettes or "encased 'talking
books'" (p.163) beginning with RCA's 1958 cassette system, followed by
Garrard in 1959, and then CBS in 1961.

I am seeking additional information on any other cassette formats in these
transitional years 1960-1970 before the Philips compact cassette and the
8-track tape become standards in the market.  I have not been able to find
much more than Ward's introduction.

Ward goes on to state "expert knowledge of obsolete cassette types is
unlikely to enjoy much application as the chance of finding a compatible
machine is remote and only a small minority were used in any quantity for
other than prerecorded commercial releases" (p171).  Be that as it may, I am
currently developing a pictorial guide to audio formats that I hope to go
beyond the commonplace formats (much like my guide to videotape formats at
www.video-id.com )

This information will be presented at the Sound Savings preservation
conference in Austin next month, so any leads on other obsolete cassette
formats would be greatly appreciated (and acknowledged).


Sarah Stauderman
Preservation Manager
Smithsonian Institution Archives
MRC 414 Room 2135 A&I
202-357-1421 x 56 (telephone)
202-357-2395 (fax)

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