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  • Frederick Rickmann

A man you have never heard of has changed your life!

Lou Ottens is the man. His work has certainly changed your life and that of your parents. He died at the age of 94 on the 6th March in the Netherlands. Lou Ottens was the visionary inventor who lead the design teams at Philips who were responsible for creating the music cassette and the portable cassette recorder. Not content with just that achievement, Lou Ottens was also the person behind the development and success of the music CD.

A man you have never heard of has changed your life!

You might think that inventing the music cassette and then the CD were just technical developments in audio technology. But the cultural effect was that the work of Lou Ottens gave several generations of people the world over a new sense of freedom. Freedom of movement. Freedom to record their own choice of sounds. Freedom to create their own music and playlists. Freedom to share.

Lou Ottens's idea was that a music cassette was an object that you could carry in your pocket and he made a small block of wood to try that out. Previously, tape recorders were cumbersome open-reel affairs that required a lot of attention. And they were stationary. From the music cassette, the Sony Walkman evolved and the concept of music on the go. But not content with that world breaking achievement, Ottens went further in Philips and developed the CD. The laser tech and the digital world together in CD's brought what is probably the finest quality of sound. No tape rumble or LP crackle.

What is significant about the inventiveness of Lou Ottens and his team at Philips is that they paved the way from vinyl LP's forward through portable music and cassettes and CD's. So that the jump to into digital streaming like Spotify and iTunes are just small hops. The conceptual leaps of innovation were done by Lou. Thank you, man!

A man you have never heard of has changed your life!


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