Vintage 2-track PlayTapes mini-cartridges

The humble PlayTape, a kind of 8-track cartridge in miniature form, was marketed (and rather popular) roughly from 1966 to 1968. PlayTapes were small and used 1/8″ tape — the same as cassettes. (8-track tapes, 4-track tapes, and reel-to-reels used wider 1/4″ tape.)

PlayTapes didn’t feature separate programs, per se; the tapes were divided into two “channels”, both with 2-4 songs on average. With a maximum length of 24 minutes, but most with a shorter playing time, PlayTapes were a kind of precursor to cassingles — you might say they were a handy little tape cartridge EP.

There were a few different players available for PlayTapes, as well as cases and other accessories. Volkswagen even offered PlayTape players (the “Sapphire”) in some models of their cars, both with and without a radio. The portable players are not too hard to find for sale, though the Sapphires are much more rare.

Obviously collectible and interesting to vintage music format fans, PlayTapes include several titles by the likes of The Beatles, The Grass Roots, and other popular 1960s artists. Three thousand titles were available, many with text-only labels but a few with album cover pictures. Surprisingly, many PlayTapes for sale online these days are still sealed.

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