Saturday, August 6, 2016

1972 Weltron 8 Track Player

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If you are under 40 you may never have seen or been aware 8 track tape players ever existed.

Above is one model that looked "futuristic" at the time made in 1972 by Weltron and it also had an AM/FM radio.

There were songs recorded magnetic tape on each track on the tape that looped inside the machine.  The change of tracks from one to the next was abrupt.   I had a Styx "Pieces of Eight" 1978 8 track tape where the track changed in the middle of "Blue Collar Man".   You would be jamming and then it stopped for a second or so, there was an audible "Click" and it jumped right back into the song.  

You could change the tracks, but if there was more than one song on the track you could not fast forward, you had to wait until the machine got to the song you wanted to hear.

8 Track tapes were originally invented for use in jets How To Geek Triva reported that Bill Lear, founder of the Lear Jet Company was looking for an alternative to the vinyl records, which were the standard at the time, to provide passengers with skip-free music during flights.   One of Lear's Designers, Richard Kraus, built the first 8 track player based on a design by George Eash for a lesser known 4 track cartridge.

In 1964 the Lear Corporation building and distributed 100 demo models to recording and auto execs to get them interested in the project and by the 1970's 8 track players were introduced not only jets and autos, but in homes across America with players like the above.

Around the same time though, cassette tapes, which actually pre-dated the invention of 8 tracks, were becoming popular because they were smaller, had better sound and you could fast forward and reverse and they began to overtake the market by the mid-1970's.  By the time CDs appeared in 1982 they had pretty much vanished from the scene, but the last 8 track by a popular band was in 1988, which was Fleetwood Mac's "Fleetwood Mac's Greatest Hits".

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