I’ve always been a music fan and I’ve always loved playing music. In my life, I’ve had the ability to listen to music in almost every format devised: on the radio hidden under my pillow at night; old 78’s from my parents; 45’s I saved up my paper route money to buy; bulky 8-track casssetes that inevitably split my favorite songs between various sections; over 400 LP’s that still sit on shelves in my basement; the homemade mix cassette tapes that in college had to be made for any new romantic attraction or keg party; CD’s–the format I resisted until no one released LP’s anymore; and now I mostly listen to the over 5,000 tunes I’ve ripped into MP-3 files from my CD collection (and the collections of friends and the library!)
I think the only two formats that I didn’t buy into were reel-to-reel tapes and Sony’s mini-disc. My cousins had the reel-to reels and I was impressed by the amount of music they held, but my parents would never have allowed me to spend that much on a tape player. Sony’s ill-fated attempt to create a digital tape to replace CD’s in much the same way cassetes improved on LP’s is why Sony, the original innovator in personal music devices and CD’s, is nowhere to be seen during Apple’s run with iTunes and the iPod.
I, of course, have also invested in the newest technology to play all these formats: transistor radios that always ended up smashed to bits; lo-fi record players with the turntable arm that allowed you to play several records in a row (or just one side over and over again–my mom’s nightmare); a summer wasted on an inherited 8 track player with “quadrophonic” sound (I never understood that one as I I don’t have four ears); My deluxe component stereo system, an entire summer job’s wages invested in a receiver/cassette player and turntable set-up from the long-lost Gordon Electronics on Erie Boulevard. This system sits in my basement, still working. It’s volume and tenacity has pissed off my parents, several college and post-grad roommates and now my wife. I have owned several Walkman tape players that went from Soviet TV-sized to streamlined, and added an expensive 5-disc CD player to my stereo, as well as the inevitable Discman.
I went through this breakdown of my music listening history for one reason. I still can’t believe that a player the size of a credit card can put over 3,000 tunes in my shirt pocket. I’ve always been an Apple computer person so I was hipped to the iPod and the iTunes software application early on–I’m still amazed at how much damn use I get out of the iPod. (and I still haven’t upgraded to the video iPod. That may happen soon, when the economics of downloading The Daily Show and the Colbert Report start to beat out cable fees.) My feeling may have been influenced by my recent 10 day stay in the hospital–many of which were spent confined to bed. Along with visits and phone calls from family and friends, my iPod kept me sane.