Ghetto Blast from the Past

Mini Boom Box

Whilst browsing through my local Cash Converter store last year, I came across this vintage Mini Boom Box. I’m sure you won’t be too surprised to discover that, since I am a collector of all things musical, it was love at first sight for me. Since it was selling for less than a fiver, I snapped it up on the spot and took it home to give it a bit of tender loving care.

Cassette Heaven

It has been a long while since I last owned a portable device for playing cassettes, so after a quick clean of the mechanism, I dusted off some of my prized tapes and gave it a whirl. To my amazement it worked perfectly – no wow, no flutter…and no tape chewing! In no time at all, I was instantly transported back to the largely carefree days of my teens where cassettes were the weapons of choice in the war against tedium.

Back Panel

Although there is no brand marking or a make /model identifier on the casing, this particular machine probably dates back to the early 90’s and was manufactured in China for sale in Europe. However, since the CE marking on the label at the rear is a ‘counterfeit’, the manufacturers were never officially licensed to sell this product in the Economic Union (EU). 

Actually, the word ‘counterfeit’ is not quite correct. From 1985 onwards it became a mandatory requirement in the EU to label certain products i.e. electrical goods etc, to identify anything that was either made in the EU, or made by other countries specially licensed by the EU, for sale within the European Economic Area (EEA). They developed a special CE identifying mark, where CE stands for ‘Conformité Européenne’.  Manufacturers in China got round the licensing issues by inventing and registering their own CE logo which, at first glance, looks almost identical to the European version. The difference between the two is in the subtle spacing between the C and the E. In the European version, the C and E are widely spaced, whereas in the Chinese logo, the C and E are practically touching. The Chinese CE stands for ‘China Export’. Cheeky, but legal!

CE

As well as the cassette player, the Mini Boom Box also has a built in AM/FM radio. On the back it has an output mini jack socket for headphones and an input mini jack for connecting up a CD player to the internal amplifier. On the top panel there is a mini jack input for a mains adapter.

Top View

It is highly portable, measuring 22.5 cm by 12 cm by 10.5 cm and fashioned in the shape of a handyman toolbox. All in all, it is a nifty piece of cassette/radio nostalgia.

If anyone can shed some light on the name of manufacturer or can pin down an accurate date for its release, please let me know!

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Drinkman

DSCN0993In recent years, compact cassettes have become iconic images, especially to members of the ‘MP3 generation’ – people who are far too young to remember such retro technology. Sadly, I am old enough to remember the good old days (?) of using cassettes, and also the universal ‘Law of Sod’ that governed all tape use:  The probability of your cassette player chewing up your tape is directly proportional to how precious that particular tape is to you’.

Other joys (?) of cassette usage were:

Playing a particular track on your cassette so much that you eventually cause drop outs on the best bits;

finding a pencil thick enough to poke into the cassettes spools to allow you to rewind your cassettes in order to save battery power on your tape player; and

listening to your favourite artist sound like Pinky & Perky by only half depressing the play button.

As previously stated, cassette icons can now be found everywhere, from cassette shaped iPhone covers to designs on tee shirts, pencils, note books, earrings, mugs and a few dozen other examples too numerous to list here.

Joining their ranks is a fairly new item – the Mustard (TM) Drinkman – a cassette player shaped hip flask. Now you can quite literally get drunk on nostalgia. This bad boy allows you to carry around up to 150 ml of your favourite tipple, so now you will never be without liquid sustenance wherever you travel.

However, please drink responsibly, and avoid C120 length drink-a-thons.

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