50 years ago, cars and music collided

Imagine a time when you didn't have access to the world's music on demand. You couldn't just punch up your favorite tunes on the car stereo whenever you wanted. Heck, there was even a time when you couldn't access the music you owned in your collection. All you could listen to while driving was what DJs and programmers decided to play on the stations on your radio dial.

Then came ... the eight-track tape (ahh!). They may seem clunky and comical today — if you even remember them — but these cartridges were revolutionary technology 50 years ago this month, when Ford Motor Co. made the eight-track players available in all its cars (after a test in 1965 on three models). Motorists could play a full album of their choice while cruising Main Street or America's relatively new Interstate System. No longer was your music confined to your living room; it became your traveling companion.

The RCA record label was the first to fully embrace the technology with a flurry of releases (Elvis, anyone?), and initially, eight-tracks were sold at auto dealers and auto parts stores. Although the bulky cartridges offered durability, they did come with one notable flaw: To fit an entire entire album of music on a continuous-loop tape, the player would change to different tracks on the tape with a loud "clunk," sometimes in mid-song. That didn't matter much; the revolution had begun.

After about 10 years, the eight-track began to fade away, eventually made obsolete by the cassette ... then the compact disc ... then the iPod ... and now streaming music.

We're still listening to Elvis, though.

Enjoy the "Dad RockMinute" video tribute to the eight-track, above.


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