The Next Big Thing? Cassettes!

For a time, the cassette tape absolutely dominated the sales market. In 1990 alone, a staggering 442 million tapes were sold. However, with the rise of the CD, the birth of the mp3, and the eventual resurrection of vinyl, sales dwindled.

Which is not to say the format has died.

According to Bloomberg, US firm National Audio Duplicator pumped out 10 million tapes in 2014.

Now, though, Sony has brought the cassette back from the dead by unveiling a tape that can hold a whopping 148 gigabytes per square inch. If you can’t do the math, that’s 185 terabytes of total data. We’ll wait as you toss your iPod into the trash.

The tape, which was unveiled at the International Magnetics Conference in Dresden, holds approximately 74 times the amount of data of standard tapes. (For comparison, by 2010, most standard tapes could only store about 29.5 GB per square inch.)

Divine influence or magic aside, how exactly did Sony manage to boost the potential of the 50-plus-year-old magnetic tape technology? According to Gizmodo:

“The tape uses a vacuum-forming technique called sputter deposition to create a layer of magnetic crystals by shooting argon ions at a polymer film substrate. The crystals, measuring just 7.7 nanometers on average, pack together more densely than any other previous method.”

As ITWorld explained a year ago, “By tweaking the sputter conditions and developing a soft magnetic under layer on the film, the manufacturer was able to create a layer of fine magnetic particles with an average size of 7.7 nanometers.”

So, just how much data can a tape with 185 TB capacity actually hold? Here’s a few handy comparisons:

— It’s three Blu-rays’ worth of data per square inch. Or, a total of 3,700 Blu-rays on a single tape. That’s a stack of boxes that would be nearly 15 feet high.

— A single tape holds five more TB than this hard drive storage array, which has to be custom-made and runs for $9,305.

— A total of 64,750,000 songs. If the average song is, say, three minutes, that’s enough music to last you 134,896 days.

— The entirety of the Library of Congress represents about 10 total TB. One tape can hold 18.5 versions of the Library of Congress.

The tape will be available for commercial sale, but no word yet on a release date. However, the super tape was originally developed for long-term, industrial-sized data backup and not necessarily for music, game, and video storage and playback.

Feeling ready to take the plunge? Analogue Media Technologies Inc. ( hosts offices in Montreal and Toronto and is offering a bulk deal on 200 cassettes at 97-cents per, sans case, insert, labeling, or shrink wrap. Add real time duplication, a one-sided J panel, clear case, single colour label, shrink wrap and 'rush' 10 day delivery and the cost per tape comes in at US$2.30; and US460 on a minimum 200 order.  Bulk it up to 5,000 copies and the prices drop to $1.68 per for a total of $8,400.

Below, watch a video on the history of cassette tapes:

Sources: NBC News, Forbes, Gizmodo, Consequence Of Sound,



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