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Life Comes At You Fast

February 22, 2013

The Register points out that today is the 65th birthday of the Long-Play vinyl album.

The 33 1/3rpm vinyl long-playing record was devised in 1948 by Columbia Records and was an upgrade on the prior 78rpm 12-inch shellac records – which were noisy, read by a needle tracing the surface of a spiral grooved track, and only played music for about five minutes.

I grew up on vinyl, and I still have around 50 of my old favorites left.  There’s something about Rush on an LP that harkens me back to the days of mullets, minimum-wage work, and an innocence of youth that I won’t bore you with further.  But for me, the LP was my mainstay well through college, even as I finally bought my first CD player.  These days, I still mostly use the CD, and I recognize that this makes me an anachronism among the Technorati.

Now music consists of digital files mostly played from solid state devices and not spinning media. Sometimes it comes across a network, from internet radio stations or other sources. The newest, 11th release of iTunes throws your music library up into the iCloud…

I am not an iAnything user.  I do actually have a digital music player that I occasionally use… it’s called my old phone (but the music quality is exceptional, and that’s still a necessity to me).  For the most part, I’m happy to just find time to listen to music, since that doesn’t happen often.

What I think is most interesting, though, is the pace of the change.  From the LP’s 30-40 years of pure dominance, the CD only lasted 25 years or so before digital formats took it over.  Audio quality and capability keeps evolving.  Just think.  Most people who want to access anything older than a 33 1/3 LP probably don’t have the capability to play the old 78’s, and certainly not the 16s.  It won’t be long before the CD is actually something that most people can’t access.  The rate of change is moving ever faster, and we’ve lost the historical access.

This isn’t just a music phenomenon.  Try finding a 3.5″ floppy drive if you need to get data off an old disk.  For the 5 1/4, or especially that flash-in-the-pan Zip drive, it’s all over.  And nobody reading this but me (okay, and Keith) probably ever used an 8 1/2″ floppy.  I won’t even get into tape and old disk archives.  The rate of change has made data storage of all types go away, and it troubles the IT manager more than you would think.  The Internet/Cloud is not all that you think for storage, and we’re losing a lot of history of various kinds as progress wipes out the need for what we had.

I don’t have a solution, and I really don’t even know if it’s a problem.  But I do think it interesting on this anniversary of the LP to reflect.  I guess I’ll see how Hemispheres spins when I get home, just in case I lose that opportunity soon.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave Harrington permalink
    February 23, 2013 8:59 am

    First of all, I must admit to being a dinosaur (76 today).

    I still occasionally listen to music on tape; and I have about 150 LP’s which I haven’t played as my Gerrard SL95 player system isn’t set up. And I have the disks (51/4 in, hard sectored discs for a Heathkit H-89 – long since gone). They include CPM OS for the H-89, HDOS, and very early versions of text formatting software and a spreadsheet (Zencalc, 8-bit).

    And I buy most of my music on CD, which I listen in my woodworking shop.

    • February 23, 2013 9:36 am

      Happy Birthday, Dave.

      There’s nothing wrong with having things that can be set up later. My turntable is usually only functional six months or so of the year as I need the space for other things. The Heathkit discs… okay, those I can’t speak for.

      But I bet a lot of high-school technology students would be interested in learning about some of the stuff you’ve done.

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