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If You Like Uni Watch, You’ll Love This: An Amazing 1970 Cassette Deck

On Aug. 6 — the day before E and I left for our trip to Washington — I checked out a small flea market in another part of Brooklyn. I really should have been home packing and making other last-minute preparations for the trip, but this was a very special flea market with a very well-curated set of vendors, and I had good reason to believe that I would find some treasures there.

I was right. I’ve already written about one of the treasures I found that day (a very beautiful 1957 school furniture catalog), and today I’m going to tell you about the other one: the spectacular 1970 cassette player shown above. Isn’t it great? I love the multi-colored buttons and knobs, the light-up “Record Power” gauge, all the little jacks and switches, the serial number. Such a great piece of vintage electronics!

In light of its predominant color, I’ve named it Colonel Mustard. Here are some additional photos:

The player comes with a removable cover and a handle, so it’s a portable, self-contained unit!
Here it is with the cover removed.
The underside of the cover opens up for cassette storage.
The speaker is built into the back of the unit, with a very nice manufacturer’s badge.
The power cord folds up into the bottom of the unit.

I’m pretty sure Colonel Mustard was originally intended for classroom/educational use. Like, you’d be watching the filmstrip in third grade and then the cassette would provide audio narration and give a little Beep! telling the teacher when to advance to the next frame.

And does Colonel Mustard work? He most certainly does! Check it out:

As I mentioned, I acquired Colonel Mustard right before my August trip to Washington. When E and I got back from that trip, I decided to have a cassette party on Uni Watch HQ’s front porch. That happened this past Saturday, as a bunch of my friends came over and everyone brought some cassettes to play (the subject line on my emailed invitations was “Colonel Mustard … On the Porch … With a Cassette”). Many folks said they no longer had tape players of their own and were happy to have the chance to play their cassettes again!

It was a really fun time. And there were two fun visual bonuses. First, as you may recall from my Pandemic Porch Cocktails photo project, the house directly across the street from Uni Watch HQ has the same color scheme as Colonel Mustard:

And second, E and my neighbor Jason both dressed up for the cassette party by wearing boombox-themed  T-shirts, which was a hilarious coincidence:

The whole day was a blast. There will definitely be more cassette parties in the future!

And what did I pay for the device that inspired all this fun? Twenty-five bucks. Twenty-five bucks! What a steal, right?


Comments (20)

    Love the Uni-based content of course, but these side journeys are awesome. And thanks for the trip down memory lane. I was an AV geek in middle and high school in the 80’s and there were a bunch of these (a slightly newer model I’d have to guess) that weren’t in use anymore in a storage room. They were once used for individual read-along lessons and if I remember correctly they had a set of headphones stored inside the case as well.

    And don’t get me started on the Dukane filmstrip machines. I distinctly remember when our school got the automatic ones. Put a whole lot of aspiring filmstrip projectionists (the AV geek kids who always wanted to turn the knob right on the beep) out of work!

    I was expecting you to say you paid $300 or something like that. Cassette party is a great idea!

    Your neighbors and neighborhood seem pretty cool. I’d love to hear more about them. I’d also like to know how you got the cassette player home. Subway? Bike? Walk?

    Great find, Paul. Colonel Mustard is an awesome addition to your domestic appliances. The sound is really good, considdering his age and the ferro cassette you are playing in the video.

    This is awesome! I see new cassettes being issued now and wonder who can play them. Paul can! That’s who!

    This is something I’d expect to see on a Youtube channel like Techmoan. I can imagine Mat doing a sound test, checking the wow and flutter, and then doing a teardown to take a close look at the mechanism and inspect (and likely replace) the belt.

    Being the kid who was allowed to sit next to the projector and advance the filmstrip was a huge badge of honor for the entire day at my elementary school.

    Cassette Party sounds awesome. Makes me wish I still had my first-ever music cassette, Men At Work’s “Business as Usual,” as well as a cassette tape player.

    You should absolutely take a browse at Techmoan’s Youtube channel, where an English guy tracks down the most bonkers old audio/video formats on Ebay and then has to figure out how to get them to work again. It’s endless wormholes of repeatedly failed formats, weird special-purpose players, and ill-advised children’s gadgets.

    Just the episode on the 1948 record war between 33 and 45 rpm, and how RCA tried to make record changers and stacks of color-coded 45s the normal form of vinyl albums is worth a watch.



    Thank you so much for the memory overload today!!! What a wonderful addition to the UW family. I really thought you would have paid much more considering the nostalgia of the device and the beautiful condition it is in. Amazing find. Congrats!


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