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A cassette is a storage medium consisting of magnetic tape spooled within a cartridge enclosure. Cassettes can store different types of media, including audio and video. The standalone term “cassette” is most often a casual word for audio cassette, whereas the video format is typically referred to as “VHS (Video Home System) cassette.” Early personal computers also used cassettes for reading and writing data.
Audio cassettes can be traced back to the early 1960s and videocassettes can be traced back to the early 1970s. Audio cassettes were originally manufactured by the Phillips Company as children’s toys, but their gradual escalation in recording and playback quality distinguished them as a major consumer audio format by the 1980s. VHS tapes were first introduced by the Japanese electronics company, JVC, and also came to prominence in the 1980s.
Both formats were based on reel-to-reel tape mechanisms, which spooled plastic tape that was impressed with electromagnetic impulses. These impressions were then read and transduced into audio and/or visual data through elaborate reading and playback systems. Cassettes basically consolidated this process into smaller packaging, which set an important precedent for portable media over the following decades.
Some personal computers also used to use cassettes for magnetic tape data storage. An example of this was the Commodore Datasette, which interfaced with the Commodore 1530 series personal computers.