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Posted by STEVE M on

LORAN, short for LOng RAnge Navigation,  Was a US developed hyperbolic radio navigation system from WW2 which was similar to, but with an improved range over  the UK's GEE system.

Postwar, the US Coastguard took over operations of Loran until it's use was curtailed with Loran-A starting to be dismantled during the 1970s until final operation during 1985.  That said, a limited Japanese chain remained on the air until 9 May 1997, and a Chinese chain was still listed as active as of 2000. 

The passing of Loran A was mourned by some but rejoiced by many radio amateurs as Loran A operated on the 160M band and restrictions on output power were lifted as the system was decommissioned. 

However, Loran was also the brand name of a blank compact music cassette, marketed throughout the 1970s to the 1980s by Loran Cassettes & Audio Products, Inc, a division of the Loranger Manufacturing Corporation.

Loran cassettes were unusual in that the cassette's housing was made of Lexan thermoplastic , which has much more resistance to extreme heat.  Lexan was chosen by Loran to provide a blank cassette that was more suited for use in the fluctuating temperatures of automotive environments, especially a car's interior during hot summer days, which could easily warp a conventional cassette's housing and result in a car's cassette player spewing a proportion of the 85 metres or 281 feet of tape the average C60 cassette housed, into the depths of the player and choking its workings mercilessly!!!!
Because of the rigidity of Lexan, the cassette's write protect mechanism had to be redesigned with the break out tabs seen on other cassettes being switched for plastic mechanisms that would open or close the notch by turning the mechanism with a small screwdriver.
Alas, just like it's illustrious namesake, the compact cassette - even those not made by Loran - is considered an obsolete product  as perusal of historical statistics indicate that by the turn of the new millenium cassettes covered less than 5% of all music sold.     Most U.S. music companies  - including Loran - stopped making cassettes by the end of 2002, with National Audio, the only US manufacturers finally selling their run-out stocks by mid 2017, however, surprisingly blank cassette tapes are still being made and sold as I write this article.


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