Vice did a really neat little write-up of the old-school aux cable cassette adapter and the pang of nostalgia it brought on hit me in the chest like a sucker punch.
In the glory days of the late 90s, my family decided to make the jump from cassettes to CDs. It was a bold choice on our part, because we were a family with a wide variety of cassette tapes. Well, I say “a wide variety” – they were mostly country music and mostly Reba McEntire and Alan Jackson at that. But our 1986 Camry and our 1996 Camry both had cassette decks. The thought of traveling without music was unthinkable, so we had to weigh out the pros and cons of replacing the cassette deck with a CD Player.
We didn’t weigh those pros and cons for very long because a fateful trip to Wal-Mart showed us the solution to all our problems: the cassette adapter.
This way, we could take my Sony Discman (with skip protection!) on the road and take both our cassette collection AND our burgeoning CD collection with us. The cassette adapter was reliable, easy to use and the audio wasn’t awful. It was happiness for only $10 US.
Eventually we did sub out the cassette deck in the ’96 Camry. I went for a CD player which went obsolete, oh, I dunno, five months after I had it installed? Because just around the corner was a little contraption known as the iPod. Now, I needed one of those FM transmitters with an aux connection, which was, and I can’t stress this enough, a rip-off. You could never tune in a channel that stayed consistently connected. Somehow, even with the device in the car with you, the transmission would cut out. I looked at my wife’s car, which for some reason came with a tape deck built in, and longed for my faithful companion.
Nowadays it’s all Bluetooth this and aux-jack that in our Highlander (yes, another Toyota, don’t act surprised). But in our crummy ’03 VW Passat, there is still a tape deck. And yes, we do have a cassette adapter…but neither of our phones has a headphone jack anymore.
The future is unkind to those who just want to listen to CCR in peace.