The eight-track tape deck and format was conceived in the mid-1960s by Bill Lear of Learjet, who wanted to give his upscale customers a way to play music in their jets (reel-to-reel players were too large). Realizing that the tape deck would work just as well in automobiles, Lear successfully encouraged Detroit automakers to install them in their vehicles, which they did beginning in the 1966 model year.

Home eight-track players appeared a few years later (in the 1970s, companies such as Magnavox made receivers with eight-track players built right in), and while the format was always praised for the quality of its sound, the tape cartridges themselves were poorly designed. Although the eight-track persisted as a format for 23 years, it eventually gave way to the even more compact cassette tape.

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