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Brain Buster

Farewell Little Plastic Discs

I remember when it began, around 1987. I had saved enough money mowing lawns, and managed to talk my parents into driving me to the Lechmere (Best Buy before there was a Best Buy) an hour away in Albany, New York. For $400 I got the second model Discman that Sony made and two CDs – Wang Chung’s Mosiac and Van Halen 5150. I didn’t have enough to complete the 1987 holy trinity by adding Bobby Brown, Don’t be Cruel. Maybe not Sophie’s Choice, but a tough decision. After years of listening to worn out cassette tapes I was blown away. Through college I bought while I still had summer cash to burn, and sold in the spring to get the cash to make it to the next summer.

Fast forward to the same renaissance in video, I replaced my 40 or so favorite films with DVDs, loving that the wouldn’t get eaten by dirty play heads, and the soundtracks were pristine.

Now, 25 years later I’m at a tag sale one of the neighbors is having. They have a box of CDs that people are looking through and a six year old girl asks “Daddy, what are those?”. One of the men thumbing through the box says “Honey, these are CDs, this is how we used to buy music.”

And it struck me there that the transition was over. I’ve been walking around with my music on an Apple device of some kind for years, the last of the CDs in a box in the basement, but it wasn’t until the past two years that I started thinking “If I was going to take the time to watch The Matrix again, there’s no way I’d watch the DVD when I can get it on the Apple TV in HD.” Slowly the bookcase of DVDs is shrinking as they get replaced with their virtual twins. I’ve waited my whole life to be able to watch a movie while traveling on my iPad. My son is born into a world where Toy Story is the first movie he sees, and he can take it with him wherever he wants and watch it at any time.

Although it’s shaken up the media world, I’m enjoying this new thing.

5 replies on “Farewell Little Plastic Discs”

I’ve gone through similar multiple transformations over the years. It’s fascinating and time consuming. Virtual has been here for a few years, but now the Cloud tools are changing the game again– it will be interesting to see how the apple/Amazon/Google cloud services shake out. They each have their plusses and minuses.

Almost 20 years ago, I handed a 33 RPM vinyl album to my then toddler son, asking, “Do you know what this is?” He nodded, wound up, and flung the thing across the living room like a Frisbee.

Physical media is dead.

who could not forget the oldies but goodies on 33, the stars on 45, from lp’s to singles in 12″ inch remixes, the rock and roll 8 tracks, sides a & b of cassettes, vhs rivals the betamax, the short lived laser disc, from walkman to discman, multiple disc player tray or carousel… all replaced by bytes from the dawn of kilo to early mega, now in hand held gigas and thumb sized tera, very soon to pea-sized peta into the clouds. signs that digital age is ageing.

It’s amazing how one tecchnology eats up another from the past and the becomes the new status quo.

I wonder however with the move to digital online sales of mulitmedia how accessible it will be for young kids to be able to buy. As you mentioned, we’ve all saved up poket money as kids to go to the shops to buy tapes / CDs etc, but now with the need for credit cards etc to buy online, I guess the piggy bank will also evolve into a visa debit card or paypal account.

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