Sony’s new tape format promises 48,496,640 songs in your pocket

An iPhone 5 masquerading as a cassette tape.

An iPhone 5 case masquerading as a cassette tape.

If video killed the radio star, then the iPod helped kill the cassette tape.

Although perhaps not permanently enough.

According to new reports, Sony has developed a new magnetic tape capable of holding 148GB of data per square inch — meaning that if spooled into a cartridge, each tape would boast an astonishing 185TB worth of storage. To put that into context, it’s the equivalent of 3,700 dual-layer 50GB Blu-rays.

Before hipsters get too excited however (or else start panicking that their obscure music format of choice is going to become mainstream again), it’s worth remembering that tape has never been the best storage medium for easy access. And in a day when the concept of downloading music is being displaced by the rise of streaming services like iTunes Radio and Spotify, there’s very little danger that we’re going to see a mass revival of the Walkman.

After all, can you imagine having to fast-forward through 48,496,640 songs (roughly the amount you could store on an 185TB cassette) to find the one you want?

Even the slackest hipster doesn’t have time for that.

  • Windlasher

    Yeah – BUT… (There is always a But) … For Data Backup, this thing would be the Shizzle!

  • David Marks

    Tape has always had limitations as an archival medium:
    – Bleeding – the magnetic field on one layer affects the field on another on the spool
    – Unraveling – cassette decks were notorious for “eating” tapes
    – Brittleness – As tape ages it dries out and turns to dust

  • Corey Robertson

    what. a. colossal. waste. of. time. They’d have been better off inventing a digital 8 track cassette, and then market new 8 track players, cresting a whole new market!

  • Kevin Peck

    Just how fun will it be to skip to the song you want? Or play a random shuffle?

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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