Eight-Track Tapes

Eight Track Tapes

By today’s standards, where the world is filled with portable music emanating from iPods, the eight-track tape seems rather (click) antiquated. Big and bulky, the endlessly-looping tape contained within also had this annoying habit of (click) interrupting songs midway through with an audible click as they moved through each of their quadrants. Furthermore, the intended order of songs was often disrupted, and occasionally (click), … long periods of silence lingered between tracks. Having said that, they allowed, for the first time, the ability to bring music of one’s choice into (click) an automobile, as well as a portable listening device – something previously impossible.

The eight-track format was introduced in 1964, with Ford Motors offering factory-installed players by the following year. And, for a time at least, the technology seemed here to stay. Their reign of popularity began to fade in the 70s, however, with the introduction of the smaller cassette tape – showcased by a series of popular ads for Memorex, which featured jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald breaking a glass with her voice. Here’s a sample:

By the time CDs arrived in the 80s, the glory days of the eight-track tape had come to an end. Most sources agree that Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits album in 1988 was the last commercially produced eight-track. Thankfully, a man named James “Bucks” Burnett (who once managed Tiny Tim) has done his part to ensure the former media format will never be forgotten. A collector since 1988, he first set out to compile every Beatles eight-track ever produced, an endeavor that took two years to complete. But that was only the beginning; today, he is the founder of the Eight-Track Museum, located in Dallas, Texas. Let’s take a visit:

What we want to know is – do you still have any eight tracks among your personal property? Even better, do you have a way to play them? Do you have a particular one that you remember listening to all the time? Share those memories of eight-track tapes with us in our comments section. Oh, and a word to the wise, don’t be so quick to put them out at your next yard sale. A copy of a Led Zeppelin tape recently fetched a respectable $152. You may be sitting on a small gold mine.

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7 Responses to “Eight-Track Tapes”

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  1. HardyGirl66 says:

    My brother had ‘em, my friend had ‘em. I’ll admit, the only time I ever owned an 8-track was in the 80s, when I found this cool 8-track player headboard in a thrift store, and bought a couple of 8-tracks from there too, so I could play something on it. I didn’t keep it long though, b/c I needed money to move so I sold it.

  2. popcult69 says:

    Ah, the good old days…listened to many 8-tracks almost every day, enjoyed some good music. Joined the RCA Record and Tape Club (long gone, would be great to have it back) in 1977, the first release I got was “The Monkees Greatest Hits” (Arista), which I still listen to every once and a while.

    Then came “Saturday Night Fever” (with different artwork on the cover, a painting of the Bee Gees on stage), “Pieces Of Eight” (Styx), “Octave” (The Moody Blues), and many others. We (the family) had a Yorx stereo with 8-track, turntable, cassette decks, and tuner…replaced it with a Magnavox in 1992, I got a Sears system for Christmas 1986 with an 8-track player…who knew they were still around then?

    Goldmine magazine featured a column by Lisa Barker called “Collectormania”, which featured an article about 8-tracks, a fascinating piece. I think it was included in one of their Annual books, all of them and the magazine are worth checking out. Hope it’s OK to mention brand names and such, I strongly believe in promoting fine name brand merchandise and publications that I use and read.

    Long Live The 8-track!

  3. Amy says:

    Still have one, it still (kinda) works, but the tapes are so old and deteriorated that if I stick one in, it is immediately (click) chewed up and spit out like bad licorice. I remember being 7 or 8 and (click) my favorite 8-track was my brother’s Thin Lizzy-Jailbreak. I also remember the (click) clicks. Young audiophiles like myself were endlessly perturbed at this blasphemous interruption.

  4. jennifer harris says:

    I never had an 8 track tape or player.My ex-fiancee did with a record player built in.

  5. Rich says:

    I fondly remember 8-tracks as well. My brother had a bunch, and we had a Yorx turntable/8-track/tuner in a wood cabinet. My brother also had a car mounted one.
    The one thing that was required equipment on almost all 8-track players was a matchbook, which would be wedged between the bottom of the 8-track and the player to keep the playing head aligned with the tape. Good stuff.

  6. Michael Tremblay says:

    I had an 8 track…I hated the 8 track (click). No rewind only fast(click)forward. Oh man, I hated those things.

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