Imagesound is saddened to hear of the death of Lou Ottens. You might not know who Lou was, but you'll know his music industry shaking invention - the audio cassette. Born in the Netherlands in 1926 his love affair with technology started when he built a radio during the War so his family could listen to Allied broadcasts. He started work for Phillips in 1952 and headed the team who developed audio cassette technology, with the ground-breaking equipment launching at a Berlin electronics fair in 1960. An immediate success, it transformed the way that people listened to music forever and achieved Lou's aim of a pocket-sized way of carrying your music around.
Thank You for the Music - the legacy of Lou Ottens
Many of us will fondly remember the mixtape, and from sharing music with friends to musical love letters, it was not only a rite of passage, but also a way of expressing your personality for Generation X. Essayist Geoffrey O’Brien has described it as ‘the most widely practized American art form’. Some of Imagesound’s music curation team cut their lyrical teeth on making mixtapes - they are after all a personalized form of our day-to-day playlists!
On the 50th anniversary of its creation Lou told Time Magazine that it was a sensation from day one and despite an apparent wane in its popularity over the past decade the cassette still remains popular with artists such as Lady Gaga and The Killers releasing music on them and an increase of over 103% in sales in the first half of 2020.
We've got a lot to thank Lou for at Imagesound - in our early days the music we sent to our customers was on tape - it was a cost-effective and easy way to distribute their playlists, we must have sent out hundreds of thousands of them. We are forever grateful for the technology that allowed us to start the business!
Lou was also involved in the development of the CD - and on his retirement in 1986 he said that his only regret was that Phillips hadn't developed the Walkman. He was famously modest - saying that he had no 'pride dial' and credited all his inventions as a team effort.
While we've not sent out a cassette for many years, we still want to say, 'Thank you Lou!'