Dialaphone Heroes: C90 Cassette

Long before the iPod, long before Spotify’s mobile app, long before MP3s and even CDs there was a format for playing music at home or on the move that was used and loved by millions.

The compact cassette was the landmark invention that took music out of the home and led to the invention of the Walkman, the iconic device that made music truly portable. However, there was a particular type of cassette that we remember as being more significant than others – the C90.

So called due to being able to hold 45 minutes of music on each side, the C90 was the invention that gave rise to the mixtape, giving legions of music lovers the chance to create their own personalised collections of tracks either for themselves or to pass on to someone else, often a potential love interest.

While record store shelves filled up with cassette albums during the eighties and almost pushed vinyl out completely, multi-packs of C90s stored in large bins at the back of the store became just as commonplace.

The cassettes themselves had a rugged feel that doesn’t exist in the technology of today, with the clunk-clink sensation of pushing one into a tape deck being comparable to placing a needle on a record.

There were also a couple of plastic tabs that could be snapped off to render the cassette un-recordable, preserving your mixtape forever. However, you could get around this by placing Selotape over the resulting holes.

They may have suffered from questionable sound quality (and there was always a risk of your tape deck chewing them up) but C90 cassettes are something that we remember fondly, even though we’ve been using the likes of Spotify for years.

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