Sony Unveils Cassette Tape with 64M Song Capacity


Remember that feeling when you heard about the 10GB iPod and instantly began calculating how much music you could squeeze into its revolutionary mobile hard drive? Prepare for nostalgia to ensue, as Sony has just announced a 185 terabyte cassette tape at the International Magnetics Conference in Germany.

Cassette tapes, say it with me, “CA-SSETTE TAPES” are an ancient form of technology that stores and reads information or music off of a continuous strand of magnetic tape. This technology later fed into what we call CDs. Hopefully this is all review for you. Either way, check out some of the details surrounding Sony’s new contribution to the Information Age after the jump.

A terabyte is a lot of space relative to what you can currently fit in your pocket. For comparison, Apple’s highest-capacity iPhone is currently 64GB, with the highest-capacity iPod sitting at 160GB. One terabyte(TB) is 1024GB. Multiply that times 185 and you have the capacity of Sony’s new cassette tape.

Not big on tech jargon? Let me hit you with some numbers that are easier to grasp, courtesy of ExtremeTech.

A single tape can hold:
– 3,700 Blu Ray movies
– 64,730,000 songs (3:00/song avg.)
– 18.5 copies of the entire Library of Congress

For you music lovers, that translates into over 8 MILLION days worth of music. It is, however, important to note that these cassette tapes are currently planned for commercial sale and meant primarily for data storage – they are not (yet) intended for music and video storage and playback. With this technology in the right hands, it shouldn’t be long until it is.

So how does it work? I’ll try my hand at explaining the following quote from Gizmodo:

“The tape uses a vacuum-forming technique called sputter deposition to create a layer of magnetic crystals by shooting argon ions at a polymer film substrate. The crystals, measuring just 7.7 nanometers on average, pack together more densely than any other previous method.”

In English, the capacity of the magnetic tape in a cassette is determined by its surface area. A cassette tape as you may (or may not) know it, holds about 30GB worth of information per square inch, with Sony’s new competitor holding 148GB per square inch. This is done through creating a new type of magnetic tape that utilizes much smaller and much denser magnetic crystals.

No word yet on the official name or release date of this game-changing technology, so keep your iPod on deck for now.

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