Walmart Commercial From 1981, Featuring “Cassette to Cassette” Copying

Copying music wasn’t always so taboo, here’s a Walmart commercial from 1981 that features a stereo system with the “special twin cassette feature.” Now you can record from cassette to cassette! Cool! —MEGHANN MARCO


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  1. scoobydoo says:

    Love the ghetto Walmart font and the listing of all 12 store locations :)

  2. Magister says:

    I even used a cool stereo like that to copy my VIC-20 programs. I was l33t before l33t was cool.

  3. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I was thinking about this the other day….did the increase in concern about home copying of media increase with the speed at which a consumer can make a copy?

    It used to be that a audio/video tape would take as long to copy it as it would to play it (or in the best cases, a bit faster). Now, someone can copy a CD in less than 5 minutes, a DVD in less than 10.

  4. Ozyman666 says:

    Also, the quality for each copy dropped, making copies of copies pretty bad, if I recall correctly.

  5. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:


    That is true. I recall going “down the shore” (New Jersey), and buying mixed tapes, and sometimes they were awful quality.

    I think if all copies are made from 1 master, the quality should be pretty good, but even the master will start to degrade from all the use.

  6. DeeJayQueue says:

    The current fervor about copying media is because every digital copy made is exactly the same bit for bit as the master it was made from. Analog copies (like tapes) aren’t perfect copies. Plus they are destructive media which means the act of playing them destroys them a little each time. The heads on a tape player gradually demagnetize it, the capstans gradually stretch the tape, needles and stylii wear down a record.

    Industry execs weren’t so worried then because there was no way to make a perfect copy, and even if there were, it would wear out eventually, and people would have to replace it. The problem is, the people running the industries are stuck in this business model, and it’s been obsolete for 20 years.

  7. jconli1 says:

    DJQ – true but the RIAA’s real fervor (to put it kindly) hasn’t been about bit-for-bit copying, but instead about MP3s… which are inherently lossy and sound nowhere near as good as the original copy in most cases.

    MP3s are without a doubt the cassette tapes of the current era in terms of sound quality, portability, ease of copying, and general ubiquity.

    … just too bad you can’t put a piece of scotch tape across the top of your iTunes M4P’s plastic shell so that they copy easier.

  8. Yep says:

    …to say nothing of the ludicrous drop in consumer electronics prices over the past 2 decades. The stuff just keeps getting cheaper and cheaper. Emerson’s comparable product today at might be this . And thats going for a whopping $88.22 in today’s dollars. Granted, maybe it has something to do with where Emerson’s brand has gone in the intervening years, too…(was their stuff ever good?) But heck, those 1981 dollars could buy $375 worth of merchandise now which would get you a very serviceable mini system that would probably blow that set up away.

  9. Hoss says:

    If we bought 100 shares of Wal-Mart back then (us trust-fund babies) at a cost of around $4,000 — the value today would be approx. $625,000.

    Just what-ifing…

  10. Kat says:

    Aww, I remember my first double-cassette player…

  11. DeeJayQueue says:

    @ jconli1: Yes, but after the initial rip every subsequent copy is bit-for-bit exactly like the first one. They also don’t ever wear out and never need replacing (unless you kill your hard drive). This is the critical difference between tapes and digital media and it’s why the RIAA is all panty-bunched about it. They had a revenue stream set up from people who had to buy the same album multiple times on vinyl or tape because it would simply wear out from use. They didn’t care so much about tape traders after a while because they knew that making a tape of a tape of a tape just wouldn’t sound good, and all it did was encourage people to buy the real thing once their tape wore out, warped or melted in the sun. Mp3s threaten this revenue because this generation of “tape traders” has media that never wears out and sounds just as good as it did when it was first ripped.

  12. I actually have a Sony double cassette player that I got in the late 90’s that sounds/copies amazingly.

    It has a bunch of Dolby features and such, which has come in handy as I have begun transferring old tapes to digital. [I am an ex-raver with a lot of rare dj mixset casettes].