As a little kid I faintly remember my parents having odd-sized 78 RPM vinyl records….
I didn’t understand much about them, other than they played at a rate of 78 revolutions-per-minute on a turntable versus the standard long playing record album of the day that played at 33 RPM. Then my older siblings struck teen, I learned about 45 RPM records. They were tiny by comparison, but packed a powerful punch in that they held only the very best songs. No filler.
At some point later in the 1960s do-it-yourself recorded music hit the mainstream marketplace.
They came before my time, but have you ever seen one of those old reel-to-reel tape recorders with giant spools of audio tape? They were pretty cool looking. Kinda like the old bicycles with those giant front tires on them were cool.
But like the gigundo-tired bikes, reel-to-reel tapes were unwieldy
So somewhere around the mid to late 1960s came a breakthrough and 4 Track tapes hit the scene. They were expensive – really expensive at first – but you could record the exact songs you wanted in the exact order and play them at home or….if you had more big bucks, in your car.
Four track didn’t last long though because before it could take off it was replaced by a lesser technology that was cheaper to make, the 8 Track tape.
However 8 Track tapes were problematic. I can’t tell you how many of them flew out of my car window in disgust while traveling down the highway at high speed. I know, I should have waited and disposed of them properly but it was maddening. And all too frequent.
Around that same time another technology, Audio Cassettes, was incubating in the marketplace.
Trouble was, cassettes musical fidelity was awful because they traveled at a speed of 1 7/8ths inchesper-second over the tape head producing a noisy, low quality sound.
And just like with cars and computers, speed is everything in music reproduction. By traveling so slow cassette tapes produced an inferior sound considered incapable of reproducing listenable music.
Eight track tapes ran at twice that speed at 3 3/4 inches per second. And reel-to-reel tapes could play at 7 1/2 inches per second, so cassettes were considered mere children’s toys until something called Dolby came along, that eliminated much of the noise and distortion inherent in cassettes up to that time.
Almost overnight 8 Track tapes were toast.
Cassettes were more reliable, smaller and thus easier to transport and store…and now better sounding.
Then in the mid 1980s the Compact Disc (CD) hit the marketplace and almost overnight vinyl records and audio cassettes began to go away. However until well into the 1990s, even the early 2000s some car manufacturers continued to include cassette players (along with CD players) in their cars.
Finally it got down to CDs only…until now.
The days of CD players in cars are numbered. Last year Ford became the first major car maker to announce it was doing away with them in its cars. With music, navigation and just about everything else migrating to smartphones, auto manufacturers are rapidly moving toward onboard infotainment systems that can be linked to people’s phones.
VHS videotapes and movies long since gave way to DVDs which are now on life support as evidenced by the current state of Blockbuster.
And certainly the death of audio and video software has not been kind to big box stores specializing in electronics like Best Buy and the now defunct Circuit City.
How much longer will we need librairies to store and catalogue physical books when they’re far more accessible sans the needless overhead expenses of staffing, heating and cooling and operating a physical library?
Minus the needless waste of billions of trees.
On the other hand, once just about everything is reduced to digital content how far will we be from where a few well-placed keystrokes could obliterate anything and everything.
My 15 year-old daughters still buy DVDs because for 10 or 15 bucks they can watch a video like a billion times instead of paying Amazon or the cable provider $3.99 or more for a 24 hour watching window. They download most of their music of course, but still buy the odd CD on occasion to sample the full album
And kids still buy, sell and trade physical video games, but for how long?
I remember the controversy when Apple was first to stop including floppy disc drives in its computers.
It was almost unthinkable. Now they’re doing away with DVD drives.
KC Confidential writer Matthew Donnelly suggested earlier today that if people wanted to find tickets for a soon-to-be sold out Sporting Kansas City game they should send out a tweet.
"Of course, if you want to go the old school route there’s always stubhub and the like," Donnelly wrote. "Those are an absolute last resort for me, though."
Hey, the times they are a changing…really fast!