Speed Reads

back to the future

America is running out of cassette tape

National Audio Co. is the only company in the U.S. that produces cassette tape. Now, as cassette tapes enjoy a resurgence in popularity, National Audio has less than a year's supply left of the stuff, The Wall Street Journal reports.

For the last 15 years, National Audio's co-owner and president Steve Stepp has been clinging to his company's dwindling supply of music-quality magnetic tape. In 2014, National Audio's South Korean supplier stopped making the material, so Stepp bought out their remaining stock before they shuttered — and has been left with a shrinking stockpile ever since.

Although the demand for tape has increased in recent years, the quality and supply has not; National Audio has long relied on outdated gear that Stepp jokes is "the finest equipment the 1960s has to offer." That's why the company — which makes cassettes for everyone from indie bands to Metallica — is planning to build the U.S.'s first high-grade tape manufacturing line in decades. The hope is that by January, their plant in Springfield, Missouri, will produce nearly 4 miles of tape per minute, and that they can sell the first cassettes with U.S.-made tape shortly thereafter.

Stepp believes that the creation of a new manufacturing line for tape will produce "the best tape ever made." "People will hear a whole new product," he says. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.