Photo by Leonard Nevarez / CC BY
How did the Stereo-Pak
In the mid-1950s, the Fidelipac format with the “endless” tape began to be used on radio stations, primarily for playing jingles and commercials. The fact is that, in addition to the stereo pair, the film in the Fidelipac cartridge had an official track for index tones. They controlled the operation of the tape recorder during the broadcast – they stopped playback, rewound the tape and performed other functions. But Fidelipac cassettes did not go further than the radio stations. In part, this fact is due to the fact that they kept only ten minutes of music. It was not very convenient to listen to such recordings, as we often had to change the cartridges in the player.
American businessman Earl Muntz, who owned the car company Muntz Car Company, took on the task of rectifying the situation and popularizing the cassettes. His company has released almost four hundred sports roadsters Muntz Jet, among the owners of which were silent movie star Clara Bow, singer Vic Damon and saxophonist Freddy Martin.
In the mid-1950s, Fidelipac cassettes with recorded commercials by Echomatic (it produced and still produces household chemicals) fell into the hands of Münz. He contacted Fidelipac author George Eash and suggested modifying the cartridge by increasing its capacity. To do this, the engineers enclosed a 6.35 mm wide tape with four soundtracks and a 3.75-inch pull speed per second in a plastic case. This approach slightly degraded the sound quality, but increased the playback time to an hour.
The modified format, called Stereo-Pak, is widespread. Mostly they listened to him in cars (we will talk more about this later), where, due to the large number of extraneous noise, a small loss in sound quality did not play a special role.
Having launched the production of new cassettes, Muntz founded the company MEC (Muntz Electronics Corporation). The Beatles, The Beach Boys, works by Frank Zappa and Jimi Hendrix were released on the Stereo-Pak. Many songs in Stereo-Pak were offered by Columbia Records.
80 years ago, automakers installed only radios in their cars. Then, listening to your own recordings while driving was out of the question. The situation began to change in the mid-1950s, when Chrysler put on an audio player for records – Highway Hi-Fi.
For him, they even developed a special vinyl format: