From The Washington Post:
Duvall Hecht, who spun the tedium of his daily commute into a cottage industry as founder of Books on Tape, a company that converted the written word into recorded sound and helped popularize the concept of audiobooks, died Feb. 10 at his home in Costa Mesa, Calif. He was 91.
“Mr. Hecht was an Olympic gold medalist in rowing, a Marine Corps pilot and, with the establishment of Books on Tape in 1975, an entrepreneur who harnessed the still-new technology of cassette tapes to offer bibliophiles a novel way of experiencing literature.
He was working at a brokerage firm in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, with a roughly one-hour commute on either end of his workday, when he became “frantic,” he told the Los Angeles Times, to escape his daily misery on the road.
Books on Tape became the formal name of his business, which he established in 1975 with help from his first wife, Sigrid, and with seed money from the sale of his Porsche. The venture made him, in the description of the trade publication Publishers Weekly, “the first great purveyor of full-length recorded books on cassette.”
Mr. Hecht was not the first person to record audio versions of books. Aside from books for the blind, he said, one could find book recordings offering instruction in foreign languages, recitations of the Bible, inspirational and self-help manifestos and advise for salespeople on closing a deal.
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