iPod was a legendary product, It was amazing because it comes in the smallest form and it played music for days. However, it is amazing to know the fact that there was a gadget which was built before digital data store or integrated circuits were commonplace. meet the Panasonic RS-296US!
It wasn’t as portable as an iPod, or maybe not portable at all as it weighed 40 lbs. However, the RS-296US was able to “store” roughly two-days worth of music. What’s more fascinating is that it was able to play music in a fully programmable fashion. These carousel-type designs got into fashion with CDs later on, but this certainly was one of its kind when it came to playing cassettes.
It could store up to 20 cassettes at a time that was loaded onto the top. Once the device was started, the tape was automatically placed, rewind when finished, flipped for side B, taken out, and replaced with the next cassette in line.
This was very sophisticated though. But due to pure mechanical nature of the design, it lacked the ability to record, fast forward, or play side B of a tape before side A. The cost of this gadget was $179 at that time, and it amounts to over $1,000 in today’s world. So indeed it wasn’t as “cool” as today’s smartphones or iPods, but it remains quite a fascinating piece of the technology while considering the time and era of its invention. Check out the video below.