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Posted by STEVE M on

The eight-track cartridge is a magnetic-tape sound recording technology that saw popular use from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s with the peak in the US being 1978 and the trough, when retail sales of 8 track cartridges were withdrawn in 1983.

The format was commonly used in cars and was most popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Japan. One advantage of the 8-track tape cartridge was that it could play continuously in an endless loop after approximately 80 minutes of playing time.

The Stereo 8 Cartridge was created in 1964 by a consortium led by Bill Lear, of Lear Jet Corporation along with Ampex, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Motorola, and Radio Corporation of America (RCA).

Although the 8-track tape format is now considered obsolete, some bands still issue these tapes with Cheap Trick's The Latest in 2009 being issued on 8-track, as was Dolly Parton's A Holly Dolly Christmas in 2020.

And there you might think endeth the tale of the eight track, so imagine my surprise when I chanced across this advert by Brenell for "The Greatest Little Eight Track in the World" dating from a production  period  between 1979 - 1983, Brenell described this machine as  “…the first one-inch tape recorder to bring true professional standards within the grasp of the smaller budget conscious studio…”, the Mini 8 recorder gave 8 tracks on 25.4mm (1″) tape at 19 and 38 cm/s (7½ and 15 ips). Featuring full logic interlock with touch-sensitive switches, motion sensing, digital read-out counter and individual record/standby channel status, this was an ideal recorder for the small studio and/or the serious professional. Priced at £3,696 in 1978 which equates to £27130 in 2023!!!

I wonder if this marketing slogan was chosen to co-incide with the eight track cartridge zenith in the hope this would bolster sales?   I suspect the desired result was not realised for although Brenell were recognised as a leading producer of quality reel to reel tape decks since their first product in 1953, they closed their doors in January 1984 after a succession of financial setbacks.

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