PlayTape (1966 – 1970)

PlayTape was a magnetic tape audio format introduced in 1966 by Frank Stanton. PlayTape used ⅛-inch tape on an endless loop with two tracks, and played from eight to 24 minutes. They were available in mono or stereo.

It was an almost instant success, because of its portability, and over 3,000 artists had published in this format by 1968.

PlayTape were issued in different colour according to the content:

  • Red cartridge (equivalent to the 7-inch single)
  • Black cartridge (equivalent to a 4-song EP)
  • Blue cartridge (children’s albums)
  • White cartridge (8 songs like an LP)
  • Gray cartridge (talk and educational)

PlayTape competed with vinyl phonograph records, 4-Track (Stereo-Pak) and later 8-Track (Stereo 8) technology.

Issues of player quality limited sales, and ultimately, the introduction of home and portable players by the 4-Track and 8-Track manufacturers led to the demise of PlayTape.

Only a handful of small compact players, and a few very rare car players were sold to the open market. In the United States, Volkswagen was the only manufacturer to offer a PlayTape player as optional equipment.

Another format based on PlayTape was the Smith Corona Mail Call Letterpack, designed for voice recordings, and intended to replace written memos and letters.

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