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Other Tape Any analog format other than cassette or reel to reel; 8-track, Elcaset, microcassette, VHS, etc.

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  #1  
Old 01-29-2013, 12:20 PM
Superfly Superfly is offline
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Another Forgotten About Tape Format - 3M Cantata


My friend and old roommate got me in to this format. This was an industrial grade, in-store ‘muzak’ machine. These were common in department stores, elevators, dentist offices, train station and airports back in the 1960s, 70s and even in to the early 80s.
Many of us have probably heard one of these tapes without even realizing it. Mostly likely while waiting to get your teeth drilled or shopping at JC Penny or Woolworths.


These were two real-to-reel tapes stacked like pancakes together to make a continuous loop of music that would repeat every 6 hours. These reels counter-rotated as the tape comes off one reel, the next reel takes up the tape. The tape speed is 3 3/4ips.
This format combines reel-to-reel technology with the 8track tape technology. Some of these even had the dreaded melting pinch roller that acted as a break for the tape.
This was only made by the 3M tape company and the only artist was the 3M Orchestra. They played covers of contemporary music as well as Christmas music.


Getting information about this is hard to find and I only found 1 video on YouTube showing one. Too bad the one in the video shows a tape with a solid real instead of the kind my friend had. It had the holes in the takeup reels so you could see how the format really operates.
These were self contained units but had quarter inch P.A. output for larger department stores and shopping malls with multiple speakers. The signal is mono.

Check it out. It’s pretty groovy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHawl9dk4bk









Too bad this was never available as a consumer grade product in which you could record as a stereo format.
My last Christmas in San Francisco 3 years ago, we threw a Christmas party at our pad and I connected the 3M Cantata to my Marantz 4400 quad receiver. It was mono going through all 4 speakers. It was kind of funny as we all were getting drunk on egg nog & brandy, Cold Duck and tons of other spirits and food while listening to the 3M Cantata Christmas tape. I even subjected my buddies to a slide show on my old Argus slide projector and watched a few old Super 8 films on the Bell & Howell film projector. It was a totally retro chic Christmas party.

  #2  
Old 01-29-2013, 03:21 PM
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I'm guessing they never made an in-dash unit
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  #3  
Old 01-29-2013, 04:02 PM
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Wow. I don't think I've ever seen one of these.
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  #4  
Old 01-29-2013, 04:16 PM
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what is this?


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  #5  
Old 01-29-2013, 04:20 PM
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I've never seen this one but I've seen the cartiage loaded ones. I think the machine held six or seven tapes and could play all of them before rewinding.
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  #6  
Old 01-30-2013, 04:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Old Busted Hotness View Post
I'm guessing they never made an in-dash unit
Well...

  #7  
Old 01-30-2013, 05:37 AM
Superfly Superfly is offline
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Old Busted Hotness and Yamo80:
Nope but only a large dump truck like the one Yamo80 post or a military style tank would have the space to accommodate these as an in-dash unit. Would be neat and creepy at the same time to ride in one of those tanks mowing down terrorist in Afghanistan listening to orchestrated contemporary covers of Glen Miller, Stan Getz, Burt Bacharach and the Carpenters.


Pacific Stereo:
Me neither until my roommate showed up one day with a mysterious looking box.
We sat there for hours watching the wheels turning around listening to elevator music.


vince666:
It's a product of the devil.
There is an evil side to this format and you'll see in the following video.


oldaudioscho:
Your thinking of the more modern (1970s) Rowe muzak player. These were a flattened 8track tape. It is the exact same set up but with a larger reel and is mono.
What's evil about this muzak machine is that it has a lock & key. I wonder if there was any sadist that used these muzak machines. Perhaps for military interrogation?
The guy in the video sums it up pretty well at the very end of this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6yOShJ6j8k
  #8  
Old 08-28-2013, 02:23 PM
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I found a solitary Cantata cartridge for sale at an antique mall...





I passed on it for $5.00, as I have absolutely no use for it, but I can go back and get it if anyone would like.
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  #9  
Old 08-28-2013, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Superfly View Post
... Mostly likely while waiting to get your teeth drilled or shopping at JC Penny or Woolworths...
You date yourself! Man, I remember those days!
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  #10  
Old 08-30-2013, 04:58 AM
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I wonder: was any of those early cassette formats designed to contain anything other than 1/4" wide, 3.5 ips tape? All those that I can think of (Elcaset, RCA cartridges, Sabamobil, etc.) used 1/4" tape running at 3.5 ips, regardless of the number of tracks and channels. OK, some also had a slower speed for dictation, but never have I heard of a faster speed or different tape width (untill 1/8" formats like the CC came along).
  #11  
Old 08-30-2013, 10:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velktron View Post
I wonder: was any of those early cassette formats designed to contain anything other than 1/4" wide, 3.5 ips tape? All those that I can think of (Elcaset, RCA cartridges, Sabamobil, etc.) used 1/4" tape running at 3.5 ips, regardless of the number of tracks and channels. OK, some also had a slower speed for dictation, but never have I heard of a faster speed or different tape width (untill 1/8" formats like the CC came along).
On that same note, what is the standard tape speed for microcassette?
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  #12  
Old 08-30-2013, 12:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velktron View Post
I wonder: was any of those early cassette formats designed to contain anything other than 1/4" wide, 3.5 ips tape? All those that I can think of (Elcaset, RCA cartridges, Sabamobil, etc.) used 1/4" tape running at 3.5 ips, regardless of the number of tracks and channels. OK, some also had a slower speed for dictation, but never have I heard of a faster speed or different tape width (untill 1/8" formats like the CC came along).

Can't forget the Fidelipac broadcast cartridges that ran at 7.5 IPS with 1/4" tape. I have seen cart machines on eBay that had a speed selector for as slow as 3.75 and as fast as 15 IPS, but 7.5 is the standard speed for them. They were used in radio stations from I believe the late 50s up until the early 2000s (I think there are even a few stations still using them today, you can still get new carts and tape http://www.cartguys.com/). They used them mostly for station call sign jingles, commercials and sometimes for music. The Muntz 4 track cartridge was based off Fidelipac cartridges, I don't have any Fidelipac carts so I can't confirm but I do believe the cartridges (the A size carts) are actually the same. Muntz 4 tracks ran at 3.75 IPS. Then the 8-track came about, based off the Muntz 4 track and Fidelipac carts only this time it has twice the tracks and a built in pinch roller.

Other than video tapes, I can't think of any cartridge/cassette format that used tape wider than 1/4".
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Last edited by nitroengine; 08-30-2013 at 01:04 PM. Reason: spelling
  #13  
Old 08-31-2013, 11:11 AM
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I knew such a system existed, but I didn't know what it was called or what it looked like. Nowadays, a $10 MP3 player bought at the checkout aisle of a drug store can hold at least 20X more music!
  #14  
Old 09-02-2013, 09:54 AM
Superfly Superfly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarvestmanMan View Post
I found a solitary Cantata cartridge for sale at an antique mall...





I passed on it for $5.00, as I have absolutely no use for it, but I can go back and get it if anyone would like.
I can put you in contact with my old roommate that collects these.
He lives in San Francisco. He might be interested.
  #15  
Old 09-08-2013, 08:32 AM
LeoB1955 LeoB1955 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superfly View Post
..Too bad this was never available as a consumer grade product in which you could record as a stereo format.
Bloody Hell! pardon my French, but I've never seen that baby before.

Isn't it a high time someone wrote a comprehensive book on audio recording history, where all these deviant/defunct formats are properly introduced, their roles and impact on the society explained and analyzed?

LeoB
  #16  
Old 12-26-2013, 01:08 PM
TheDutchOwner TheDutchOwner is offline
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I've spotted one at the Zwarte Markt, but didn't buy it because I would have no use for it. It did have a cartridge loaded. A strange beast though.
  #17  
Old 12-26-2013, 08:11 PM
emilydm emilydm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Velktron View Post
I wonder: was any of those early cassette formats designed to contain anything other than 1/4" wide, 3.5 ips tape? All those that I can think of (Elcaset, RCA cartridges, Sabamobil, etc.) used 1/4" tape running at 3.5 ips, regardless of the number of tracks and channels. OK, some also had a slower speed for dictation, but never have I heard of a faster speed or different tape width (untill 1/8" formats like the CC came along).
I've seen little square single-reel dictation "cassettes" (maybe a 3M product?) about three-by-three inches that had 1/8" wide tape with a little plastic loop at the end of the leader, like the ball end of a guitar string, to be plunked into a hole in the permanently mounted takeup reel. I couldn't tell you what speed they ran at, and you had to fully rewind the tape before ejecting it.

HarvestmanMan - Microcassettes normally run at 2.4 cm/sec, nominally 15/16 ips. They also had a half-speed option, 1.2 cm/sec.
  #18  
Old 01-06-2014, 06:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emilydm View Post
I've seen little square single-reel dictation "cassettes" (maybe a 3M product?) about three-by-three inches that had 1/8" wide tape with a little plastic loop at the end of the leader, like the ball end of a guitar string, to be plunked into a hole in the permanently mounted takeup reel. I couldn't tell you what speed they ran at, and you had to fully rewind the tape before ejecting it.
The company my dad worked for was still using those into the early 1980s before he persuaded them to upgrade to a Radio Shack micro cassette system.

They did indeed have a plastic loop at the end of the leader thatw as pulled into the takeup reel as a sort of semi-auto loading. My guess is the system was developed before the compact cassette.

The units I saw were Phillips branded. I know my dad snaffled one when they dumped them in favour of the Realistic microcassette units, and it might still be lurking in the attic somewhere. I have no tapes for it however.
  #19  
Old 01-18-2014, 07:25 PM
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That 1/8' cartridge format was the ill fated 3M/Wolensak/Revere/Columbia cartridge format from the 1960's this consortium flogged as a reel to reel/RCA cartridge alternative. Didn't succeed.
  #20  
Old 03-28-2014, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superfly View Post

My friend and old roommate got me in to this format. This was an industrial grade, in-store ‘muzak’ machine. These were common in department stores, elevators, dentist offices, train station and airports back in the 1960s, 70s and even in to the early 80s.
Many of us have probably heard one of these tapes without even realizing it. Mostly likely while waiting to get your teeth drilled or shopping at JC Penny or Woolworths.

My first job out of high school was in working for my dad's company installing, maintaining, and even custom-reloading those cartridges. This was in the late 1980's, when the technology was already ancient and the tape background music systems were about to be displaced by direct satellite.

Still, the engineering on those units was superb. Mechanical, mainly. There was a section of thick leader tape at each end of the cartridge load. There was a short staple through the leader. That staple would pull a lever and trip it into reverse at the end of each direction. It was 4-track mono bi-directional 1 7/8 IPS.

Most of the stock music sounded utterly horrible.

Good times.

Here's a link to my blog where I talk about it a bit more:

http://billlabrie.com/2014/03/28/hea...ambos-hot-dog/
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