People of the internet, we have two words for you: compact discs. Remember those? Are your nostalgia juices flowing?
In the long, lumbering transition from analog to digital, recording and playback mediums have shifted so frequently that there's scarcely any time to look back. And for the most part, the spotty audio quality throughout the digital age means there's not much of a reason for retrospection, which is why the renaissance vinyl has enjoyed probably won't happen for CDs.
The fact that your MiniDisc collection is worth zilch won't dissuade us from remembering with a smile all the products designed to help people enjoy music in the not-so-distant past, but which might as well be contemporary with the first gramophone.
Any schlub could buy some spray-on cleaner and a felt rag to wipe off superficial blemishes on CDs; it took a true music connoisseur (who also happened to be reckless with CDs) to purchase and use a CD repair kit, which magically embossed the surface of a compact disc with some sort of polymer or whatever to get rid of those scrapes and skips until the next time you couldn't find the case. It was slow, it was ugly, it didn't last. It was everything that defined the CD era.
CD cellophane opener
Oh lord, as though your soft, uncalloused hands that have never known a day's work weren't bad enough, the CD opener came along to hammer in the last nail of your irredeemable dork coffin.
Playskool cassette tape player
Who among us didn't record a version of Spice Girls' "Wannabe" over Dad's live Bruce Springsteen bootleg cassette? Childhood!
This ingenious technological innovation was a way bigger disruptor than anything Silicon Valley's produced to date. You could play CDs... in a car... that only has a cassette player?! If you had ESP anti-skip technology on your portable CD player, you and your Corolla could cruise for days.
Wanna hear some Phish? Some Guster? Maybe mix it up with a little Jurassic 5? In most states, anyone who slapped a "Coexist" sticker on her bumper was legally obligated to purchase a CD organizer to slip over the driver-side visor.
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"It's just as good as an iPod," you found yourself repeating endlessly if you were one of the few unfortunate souls who purchased a Zune. But since you had one, you might as well go whole hog: Set up the Zune dock for a high-quality in-home mp3 experience.
Headphones with an iPod dock
Just in case you felt like the iPod wasn't portable enough for you, or you were always carrying two things with you while walking, and had no pants with pockets, you could purchase a set of headphones with a space to hold your iPod. Genius!
Can you imagine what it would be like to work in a factory that produced tiny square cards that contained one-minute-long, absurdly low-quality snippets of hit songs that you played through a miniature boom box? Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a world where these things made $80 million in one year? Well, it happened.
The instinct wasn't too far off the mark -- make music players smaller and more portable -- but the execution was profoundly dumb. The name, the size, the lack of adoption all predestined the MiniDisc to failure. RIP.
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