Introduced by Sony in 1976, the Elcaset (taken from L-cassette, or ‘large cassette’) was intended to marry the performance of reel to reel with Compact Cassette convenience. The concept was similar to RCA’s Sound Tape Cartridge from nearly 20 years previously.
The Elcaset used ¼-inch tape (double the width of Compact Cassette tape), and 3.75 inches per second (twice the speed) for better reproduction. The case was also larger (about three times the size of a Compact Cassette) and more rugged. The playback mechanism pulled the tape out of the case for more precise tracking across the head.
The system was technically excellent, but a total failure in the marketplace, with a very low take up by a few audiophiles only. The performance of Compact Cassettes improved dramatically with the use of new materials such as chromium dioxide and better manufacturing quality, and for most people were adequate.
No pre-recorded Elcaset tapes were produced and the machines were withdrawn from the market after only a few years.
When Sony pulled the Elcaset from the market in 1980, the remaining equipment was sold off in Finland for bargain prices.