In our world filled with portable music, the eight-track seems rather (click) antiquated. Big and bulky, the endless looping tape within had this annoying habit of (click) interrupting songs midway with an audible click as it moved through each of four quadrants. The intended order of songs was often disrupted, and (click), … long periods of silence often lingered between tracks. They also marked the first time we could truly take our music with us.
The eight-track format was introduced in 1964, with Ford Motors offering factory-installed players by the following year. And, for a time at least, the technology seemed here to stay. Places like Columbia House allowed you to stock up on a dozen tapes for a mere penny (under the agreement that you would purchase a few at full price in the future). Portable players allowed you to take your favorite music to places such as the beach or the school bus.
Still, Eight-Tracks weren’t without their flaws. The plastic cases (and tape within) were quite susceptible to heat. Leave your Eight-Track on a hot dashboard and it probably wasn’t going to perform very well the next time around. Then, of course, was that annoying click. Since each “track” only allowed for a finite amount of time, and since this was the era of the concept album with songs regularly released that far exceeded the 3.5 minutes of your typical radio single, a lot of great music got chopped up along the way. If you wanted to hear “Freebird” or “Stairway to Heaven” in their uninterrupted glory, this wasn’t the media for you.