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April 11 Is National Eight Track Tape Day

I wouldn’t exactly call this a holiday to take a day off from work, but April 11 is National Eight Track Tape Day. We would go to Korvettes department store in Northway Mall in Colonie and buy the latest eight track tapes. They had a great music department. We just called them eight tracks. I’m sure there are people wondering what the heck an eight track tape is.

Eight Track Tape
Lou Roberts

It was a way that we used to buy and listen to music by our favorite artists. It was magnetic tape enclosed in a plastic casing, called a cartridge. It was invented by Bill Lear, the person that designed the Learjet. People don’t talk about eight tracks as much as they talk about records. I’ll save the records subject for a later blog.

In the 1960s through the early 1980s, some of us actually had these stereo eight track tape players installed in our cars. After all, you couldn’t play records in your car. There were no record players made for vehicles. If you wanted to play an album by your favorite artist, sometimes you would have to buy the tape and the record.

The eight tracks had four different “programs.” The record companies would split all the songs into the four “programs.” Sometimes the songs wouldn’t time properly for the length of time on the tape. They would fade out in the middle, and continue on the next ‘program.’

Four Programs
Lou Roberts

Anyone that had an eight track player can tell you about that – In the middle of the song it would fade out. You would hear a clunk sound, and then the song would fade back in, and you’d hear the rest of it. I found that feature annoying and funny at the same time. The clunk sound was the player changing to the next ‘program’.

Eight tracks were hot commodities. I had a case of them stolen from my car. Some of us were lucky enough to have an eight track tape recorder, and we could make our own tapes. The player in the picture is in my home studio. My brother gave it to me so I could transfer his eight track tapes to cds. Oh my God – cds are almost obsolete now, too.

A little ‘Bro.’ Lou trivia – One of my first full time jobs was working in the tape department of Transworld Music. The tape department stocked the cassette and eight track tapes to sell in all of the Recordtown stores in the Albany area. Recordtown was the predecessor of FYE stores, which are in Crossgates Mall and Colonie Center.

You might be able to find eight tracks at garage sales or flea markets. In honor of National Eight Track Tape Day, does anyone else have any eight track tape stories? I’ll be back later. I need to update my mp3 player.

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