Stereo 8, commonly known as the 8-track cartridge, is a magnetic tape technology for audio storage, popular from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. Stereo 8 was created in 1964 by a consortium led by Bill Lear of Lear Jet Corporation, along with Ampex, Ford Motor Company, Motorola and RCA Victor Records. It followed the similar Stereo-Pak 4-track cartridge. A later quadraphonic version of the format was known as Quad 8 or Q8. It has the distinction of being the only audio format specifically design to enhance one genre of music: Easy listening. The engineers involved worked tirelessly to ensure the music of performers such as James Last, Andy Williams and Tom Jones was heard to best effect. Unfortunately for the backers of the format rock music gained ascendancy towards the later half of the 20th century and easy listening all but disappeared until the emergence of Nouveau Easy Listening acts such as Air and Coldplay.
These days Stereo 8 cartridges are relegated to the garden shed of history, occasionally brought to the public's attention in period dramas such as Dazed and Confused and 'The Brady Bunch Movie, which is a shame cause they have a tonal quality modern technology can never match.
- "A Survey of Recordable Magnetic Media" by Andrew D. Crews, December, 2003, University of Texas, accessed August 8, 2006
- So Wrong They're Right - A 1995 Documentary film|documentary about 8-track enthusiasts
- 8-Track Heaven Modern website discussing 8-Tracks
- 8-Track Moments Listen to the sound of the 8-Track click.
- A History of Audio Recording