One of audio’s great innovators, Lou Ottens, has died at the age of 94. According to NRC Handelsblad, Ottens died last Saturday, 6th March at his home in Belgium.
The Dutch inventor is responsible for some of audio’s biggest and most important revelations.
He began his work in recorded music in the 1960’s working as head of the product development department for Dutch-based technology company Philips. It was in this time that Ottens first developed the analog magnetic tape recording medium which allowed users to record and playback sound.
The first time the cassette tape was introduced was in 1963, where he debuted the technology at the Berlin Radio Show electronics fair. The first plastic cassette shown read “Smaller than a pack of cigarettes!” It was designed to be portable, with its size allowing for it to be held in a jacket pocket.
Due to its success, Ottens urged Philips to license the invention to normalise it as a standard format. They did so, striking a deal with Sony to use the patented mechanism. They then rolled out the cassette globally, whilst other companies quickly copied those tapes over to different formats.
He also had a hand in helping Philips develop a robust version of the compact disc in 1979, which was successfully commercially introduced in 1982.
Over 200 billion CD’s have been sold to date.