National Eight Track Tape Day on April 11 is a great day to bust out your old eight track tape and explain to the confused millennials and Gen Zs what it is. You know it was the hottest technology from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, and you love remembering all the sweet jams you listened to with your eight track from that era.
History of National Eight Track Tape Day
Did you know the eight track tape was designed by a jet plane designer? While William Powell Lear is best known for his jet, the Learjet, he also developed a way to create eight channels (tracks) of magnetic recording tape. This invention revolutionized music technology and the way we hear our tunes – for just a little while. The eight track tape fad really only existed in the United States from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, when cassette tapes took over.
With Lear’s new device, the eight track tape, it was possible to record one continuous loop of tape and wind it into a cartridge without damaging sound quality. The automobile industry was quick to capitalize on the new trend and install eight track players in their new lines of vehicles. In 1966, Ford offered both factory-installed and dealer-installed eight track players in its luxury vehicles, and Chrysler and General Motors followed suit by 1967.
In 1966, over 65,000 players were sold, and their eight track was becoming an important part of driving in America. In fact, the convenience and portability enjoyed in the car began to spread into the home and more. The eight track soon transcended driving culture as it was brought to parks and beaches across the nation. In 1970, eight track manufacturing was brought to Europe. Though the attempt was largely unsuccessful and the company failed in just four short years, vintage eight tracks can still be found in the United Kingdom, West Germany, Italy, and more. The first karaoke machine was actually made from an eight track!
The fame of the eight track was on the rise for a decade. Competitors who created smaller cassette tapes found methods of increasing quality, and the ease of damaging and decreasing quality of the eight track drove consumers to embrace a new decade of music technology. The smaller cassette, which was only a third the size of an eight track tape, was already favored by the mid-1970s. Retail stores stopped selling eight track tapes in the 1980s, and by 1988, the last famous album released on eight track had come and gone. The once-stunning piece of technology became a footnote in the history books, but many fans of that era of music and culture can still dig up an old eight track tape in the attic and recall fond memories of hitting the open roads listening to their favorite tunes.
National Eight Track Tape Day timeline
The Last Big Hit
Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits compilation was the last big-name release on an eight track.
Eight Tracks Phased Out
Past their prime and eclipsed by new forms of listening technology, eight track tape players ceased to be manufactured or retailed.
The Wildly-Popular Eight Track
By 1967, the eight track was already on the rise, having seen over 65,000 eight track players sold.
Lear and Ford Unite
After creating the eight track, Lear sold Ford on the idea of installing an eight-track tape player in many of their cars.
Eight Tracks Invented
William Powell Lear, who was famous for developing jet planes, created the first eight track.
National Eight Track Tape Day FAQs
Where can I get an eight track tape?
Though eight track tapes were phased out of retail decades ago, you can still buy them secondhand from sites like eBay.
What other holidays are celebrated on April 11?
National Pet Day also falls on April 11!
Are there other National holidays about music?
August 20 is National Radio Day, August 12 is Vinyl Record Day, and October 1 is CD Player Day.
National Eight Track Tape Day Activities
Pull out your old collection of eight tracks
If the mere thought of an eight track fills you with nostalgia for the old days, bust out your collection and pop one in. Call up some old friends who will share your reminiscing or teach the younger ones the wonders of the lost form of music technology.
Try to buy a secondhand eight track tape
Don’t let the fact that eight tracks were phased out of retail in the 80s deter you! Estate sales and eBay will be your best friends on the road to becoming an eight track owner. Some second-hand stores will carry or even specialize in eight tracks, and they aren’t exorbitantly expensive - a player will probably only set you back $40.
Post a throwback with #NationalEightTrackTapeDay
Cover social media with the hashtags #NationalEightTrackTapeDay and #EightTrackTapeDay to proclaim your love for classic tech and hits of decades past!
5 Fun Facts About National Eight Track Day
Eight Tracks On the Go
Ford introduced eight track players in its Lincoln, Thunderbird, and Mustang models in 1965.
13 Eight Tracks for a Penny
Columbia House used to accept one single penny in exchange for a baker’s dozen eight tracks!
The Final Eight Track Album
Many concur that the final album to be commercially released on eight track was Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits compilation in 1988 - there are definitely no big-name band releases on eight track since.
The First Karaoke
Everyone has loved karaoke for decades, but few know that the first karaoke machine was actually an eight track player.
While we’re not guaranteeing that all eight tracks are collectible, many eight tracks of popular albums in good condition have become valuable since their heyday.
Why We Love National Eight Track Tape Day
It’s a blast from the past
In our modern world inundated with music streaming platforms, there’s something simple and beautiful about the classic eight track. Selecting just the tape you want, jamming out to the best hits of the old days… there’s something we love about that. Who doesn’t appreciate a niche bit of music history?
It can make unique decor!
Check out eight track art on Pinterest for some pieces that will make your heart sing. Since the demise of the eight track tape as a listening device, fans of the old technology have repurposed their damaged or outdated tracks into creative pieces of wall art - a spectacular homage to a lost age.
It’s a great collectors’ item
Though it’s very easy for eight tracks to get damaged (and having aged over forty years doesn’t help), they can be a great collectors’ item. Mint condition tapes of popular albums can sell for a significant amount - plus, they’re a fun relic of the 1970s.
National Eight Track Tape Day dates