Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An anachronism in the wild: Old school Walkman

The year was 1988.  I was 12.  For a few years I had used a huge, white Crown cassette player.  This thing was pretty basic.  It had no radio, no sound enhancement of any kind.  There was no auto-reverse.  Instead of a belt clip, this monster had a black strap so you could hang it around your neck (like a millstone).  It also required 4 AA batteries, which went on the bottom so this thing was much larger than a cassette tape.

But I played the heck out of it.  It serviced me well.  Time moves on though, and this just wasn't going to last.  Christmas, 1988.  Santa brings me the WM-AF64.  This was top of the line.  Auto-reverse at the tap of a button, Sony's proprietary Mega Bass sound enhancement, AM/FM radio with three presets as well (these were analog, not digital so you never lost them when the batteries ran out).  It also had a screw on belt clip, ran on 2 AA batteries and looked sexy.

I loved this thing.  I used it every day for years, and it withstood all that heavy use.  It would be replaced in 1994 by my first Discman, the D-33.  This, too, had Mega Bass and was billed as a "car" discman, meaning it was mounted on suspensors to try to limit the skipping.  It was also a beast.  Huge, thick, and a bit of a battery hog.  But it played me sweet, sweet music.  Years later I would finally retire this (after being married and having one kid!) in favor of the D-SJ15, a Sports branded discman that had buffering, was watertight and had a handy strap to use while running.  In fact, I still have this discman buried in a drawer in my room.

But as we all know, technology advances.  Time stands still for no one.  I finally jumped on the iPod bandwagon in 2006 with a 5th generation 30 GB model.  While I still have and use that iPod, the most commonly used is my 3rd generation iPod Nano (the best model in terms of form IMO).  I love it and use it every day.  And even then, I recognize that I am a few years behind the times.

So imagine my shock as, while driving home from work the other day, I saw a women getting ready to go for a walk outside.  She appeared to be planning on exercising, wearing athletic shoes and shorts.  She put some headphones on, then I saw her reach to her waist and push play on a huge, white Walkman style cassette player.

I was aghast.

Honestly, I don't even have any cassette tapes anymore.  I did, for years, but have no idea what happened to them or when they were left by the wayside.  Heck, my CDs basically only exist long enough for me to rip them to my computer then they go downstairs into storage.  Yet here this woman was, embracing technology from 1962, carrying at most 120 minutes of music in that bulky box.  And here I sit with 881 songs, totaling who knows how many hours, in a device smaller than a credit card and barely as thick as a couple sticks of gum.

My how the times have changed.  Though I cannot deny getting a little nostalgic for the tape hiss at the beginning of Europe's The Final Countdown, especially the start of "Cherokee" on side B.  Man I played the heck out of that tape.

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