What do the cassette tape and the Bic pen have in Common?
Well, they’re definitely among the most iconic artifacts of the 20th century. They were both invented in Europe. They’re built almost entirely of plastic. They both use highly sophisticated chemicals to perform their function. They are convenient and cheap and as such contributed to the democratization of self-expression. They’re analog and physical so they provide a user experience that no digital medium can provide.
But while the cassette tape was designed to record and listen to sounds (music, speech, bird songs, etc.), the Bic pen was designed to write on paper. So how can they interact with each other?
Of course, you can use the Bic to write the song titles on the cassette cover and label. And that’s cool.
But there’s more. And if you’re over forty you’re among the custodians of this little secret.
If your cassette player is battery powered and you need to rewind or forward the tape but the batteries are low, you can save energy by manually rewinding or forwarding the tape with the Bic. That’s because the hexagonal section of the pen fits perfectly to the toothed wheels of the tape reels. How cool is that?
You can also use this trick when, for some reason, the cassette tape is jammed, or when the rewind belt is worn out.
Joys of analog technology!