December 8, 2023

The 70s 80s 90s Blog

Three Decades of History with TV historian Tony McMahon

The thrill of the TDK C120 cassette tape!

2 min read
C120 cassette tapes were infuriating even though they could record two hours of music they were prone to snarling up and then breaking
cassette tape

The C120 cassette tape held out so much promise but was a terrible disappointment. The idea you could hold two hours of music on one tape and yet the tape was thinner and the sound quality….meh!

Eventually, I despaired of the C120 cassette and retreated to the C90 and C60.

It’s strange to recall the thrill of buying a triple pack of AD-C90 TDK tapes at the special purchase price of £4.50 at WH Smith, thinking of all the great sounds that would soon populate them.

WH Smith would also pile on the excitement by entering you for their £3,000 holiday draw.  I don’t think the three grand went to one person, it was a load of travel vouchers that got plastered round to lots of winners.

Of course there was little point in getting the C120 cassette because the tape really was thinner and more likely to snarl.  A mate of mine used to send me compilation tapes of music because he fancied himself as a font of all musical knowledge and felt he was somehow educating me. 

Those C120 cassette tapes were like cultural Red Cross parcels.

Of course, they were killed off by CDs….though slowly.   Personally, I was glad when the iPod came along and I could put my screwdriver and pencil away and stop waiting for that awful moment when your music speeded up and you knew the tape was gunged up in your deck.

That said, the technology was immortalised by the group Bow Wow Wow with their single C30 C60 C90. An ode to the cassette tape! But not C120!

2 thoughts on “The thrill of the TDK C120 cassette tape!

  1. Brilliantly written…. yeah BASF TDK Metal modern and the aged red stickers peeling off, the care a forever girlfriend put into duplicating EYE IN THE SKY album artwork on a cassette sleeve, the excitement of LED VU meters, never usurping the joy of your first battery-operated Philips from Argos

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