Although cars and cassette tapes are today seen as close bed friends, the partnership had to start somewhere. While compact cassettes had been invented by Philips in 1963 and had proved an instant success for home use, the emergence of the 8 track only two years later (and their immediate inclusion into new vehicles through support from the US car giants) meant we would not really start to see car cassette stereos emerge and take dominant control until the mid 1970s onwards. In the end they would topple the car 8 track due to their better reliability, but in the later 1960s that was not yet evident.
In 1968 Philips chose to design and release a couple of car cassette players onto the market. The first was the RN582 that was hailed in their publicity as the world’s first car stereo cassette player (being a cassette and radio combination). The next it seems was the n2600. The n2600 was announced in Feb 1968 so probably made it to shops shortly after the RN582. It was exclusively a cassette player and was designed to sit below and connect up to your existing car radio. As such it merely has a forward and reverse knob and has the unusual feature for playing the cassette by pushing down on the whole black casing to engage it. Both the Press and their own manuals at the time referred to these machines as having a ‘letter-box’ design showing the brand-new novelty of inserting the cassette horizontally into the machine (a feature we now take for granted).
This example is in very good cosmetic condition and the main unit looks hardly used. It is missing a small Philips decal to the front that could easily be replaced and also its two mounting screws and one side mounting plate that could be quite easily replaced if desired. What makes this example so nice is the fact that it comes boxed with its original literature. According to the warranty card and original receipt, it was delivered to the UK dealer in 1971 and sold in 1972 for the princely sum of £8. It runs off of a 12v negative supply.
This item marks the birth of a global and lasting phenomenon- the car cassette stereo, and would be perfect for display.