Early Cassettes Were Pink?
You don't have to look very hard to find that we're in the midst of a lot of audio cassette nostalgia. It's been going on for a while now, having progressed from the hipster underground to the T-shirt rack at Hot Topic. Cassettes have been busy lately. There seems to be a concerted effort to make the visage of the cassette a sort of visual shortcut for the 80s. There are new backroom record labels releasing music only on cassette. I'm also sure that somewhere there's a desperate student scratching out his masters thesis on how critical mix tape culture was to the the zeitgeist of the late 20th century.
That's not too bad for an audio format that was never meant for more than low fidelity recordings of dictation. In those earliest years of the "compact cassette", music labels didn't quite know how to handle selling music on this new format. Early tapes sounded pretty poor, betraying the format's origins in office-fi. It even took several years to figure out what to store tapes in. As you can see from this Bryan Ferry album from 1974, the tape is in a sort of sheath. The setup keeps tapes safe by making it remarkably difficult to actually remove the thing in order to play it.
The label wraps around the outside of the case (which has some curious grooves on the ends - for some snap-in storage system perhaps?), and the cassette itself is pink - so there's some overall sense of art direction. This kind of respect for the original music was largely absent in 8 tracks - songs were frequently re-ordered from the original album, or interrupted in the middle by the loud ka-chunk as your player changed tracks. I always thought that 8 tracks were created by people who despised music, whereas we can see that even in the earliest days of cassettes there was at least some consideration to keeping the original music pure. And pink.