The 8-Track Tape player was developed by Jet plane developer Bill Lear as a car accessory. Lear wanted to give drivers an alternative to simply listening to radio stations and instead provide them with the ability to choose their favorite styles or artists.
The players were manufactured by Motorola and were installed in several Ford automobiles and thousands of record companies rushed to put their artists on the new format.
While the format had a strong initial start, several major limitations pointed towards it’s quick demise.First, although the cartridges offered multiple tracks, the players did not offer the ability to browse forward or back through the tape. Second, the cheap components of the cartridges caused the tape material to fray and break, sending many users back to the record store to buy a replacement. Third, the audio performance was clearly subpar, with frequent fading of sound at inappropriate moments. Finally, the size of the cartridges were inconvenient and bulky, making the coming of the cassette tape a welcome relief for many users. By the mid 1970s, most record labels had stopped producing music in 8-Track tape format, instead opting for cassette tape and vinyl records. Soon 8-Track tapes were being sold for pennies on the dollar at every thrift store, garage sale or flea market in town.