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GM’s Delco Electronics to Offer Digital Tape Players in 1988

January 21, 1988

WARREN, Mich. (AP) _ There will be few if any tapes to play on them, but Delco Electronics Corp. will be providing digital audio tape players for some General Motors Corp. vehicles by summer, Delco officials said.

Digital audio tape systems, or DATs, offer virtually perfect sound reproduction because like CDs, or compact disc systems, the music they play is translated into digital signals - numbers - when it is recorded.

″DAT is the next step in playback capability format. We want to be one of the first to offer it and develop it,″ said John Crawford, Delco Electronics’ general marketing director.

″The CD is further along. But as software (a music library) is developed and goes into the marketplace at a competitive price and value, it’s accepted,″ he said. ″We’re in that phase with DAT.″

Although DAT players and recorders are available in Europe and Japan, resistance from the entertainment and recording industries has so far prevented their introduction in the United States.

Those industries fear that the high quality of DAT sound reproduction could eat into sales of original recordings even further than existing home taping systems, so they have taken their case to Congress.

But Delco Electronics, a subsidiary of GM Hughes Electronics Corp., expects the dispute to be resolved soon and has decided not to wait to be among the first on the U.S. auto sound market.

″The consumer has come to expect the same type of sound in an automobile as they can get in their living room. What’s amazing to me is we’ve been able to do it,″ said Donald Almquist, Delco Electronics vice president and general manager.

Ford Motor Co. already has announced it will offer a Sony system in this country, said Michael Shoemaker, supervisor of Delco’s playback mechanisms group.

Delco announced Wednesday it will offer optional radio systems that include CD players after March 1 and will follow with a DAT system probably by summer. Prices have not been set, said W. Don Helm, Delco’s audio systems director.

Delco showed prototypes of its CD and DAT player systems at a three-day ″Technology in Motion″ show at GM’s Tech Center styling dome in Warren.

The show, aimed at giving GM employees a generous glimpse of current and high-tech developments, moves to Lansing and then to Flint, both cities with a concentration of GM factories and other operations.

The CD system will be offered on 30 GM models and the DAT system initially on selected GM cars. But both will fit any car equipped with a recent Delco radio system, said Deb Morgan, one of many Delco employees explaining exhibits at the show.

Since DAT tapes, blank or pre-recorded, aren’t yet sold in this country, Delco will provide a set of three pre-recorded tapes to everyone who buys its DAT system, Crawford said.

A DAT tape is about half the size of a standard cassette but holds about two hours of programming, compared with an hour or 90 minutes for most cassettes.

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