8-Track: The First Mobile App

An argument between two strong-willed  inventors — Bill Lear and Earl “Madman” Muntz — sparked the world’s first mobile app. Here, for the first time, is the story behind the development of the 8 Track tape player.

In late 1965, consumers had two ready options for listening to recorded music: a radio or a record player. But with baby boomers just coming of age in the 1960s, along with new advances in magnetic tape and an explosion of music, Lear and his team ignored the naysayers and developed the 8 Track.

Through a friendship with Henry Ford II, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Co., Lear lined up his first customer. Lear also convinced David Sarnoff, chairman of RCA Victor, to dedicate 175 albums to the new medium. But none of the other record companies wanted to provide music for the new medium, while Muntz tried to thwart the 8 Track player at every turn because it was cutting into sales of the 4 Track players he had offered since 1962. 

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