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Forgotten Formats: Who Remembers the Digital Compact Cassette?

Before recordable CDs became a thing (they told us the technology would never happen on a consumer level because it was just tooooo complicated and waaaaaaay too expensive; blank discs went for $40 each), the only digital option for recording was tape. Sony introduced Digital Audio Tape (DAT) in 1987, which was quickly set upon my the music industry, declaring to the the Devil’s favourite piracy tool. Lagging slightly behind was Philips’ solution: the Digital Compact Cassette (DCC) in 1993.

DCC tapes looked exactly like regular cassettes except that instead of analogue patterns, the tape held binary code. No hiss, no rumble, no noise. And what about your old cassettes? No problem. DCC machines could play those back with no issue.

For those who don’t remember DCC’s brief flash of light, let’s go to the videotape.

Read about how DCC worked (and why it didn’t) at Ars Technica.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “Forgotten Formats: Who Remembers the Digital Compact Cassette?

  • My old roommate had a DAT machine to record shows while he was working doing sound. I wish I had kept in touch, I’m sure he has some killer stuff backed-up somewhere.


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