Shiny discs

CDs recently turned 30 years old.

I first got a CD player in 1988, when they fell below $200 for the first time. It was a CDC brand player (made by Teac), for which I trekked out to KMart at Box Hill. It worked for fifteen years, until 2003 — though its replacement didn’t last that long.

The first CD I bought back in ’88? Abbey Road.

I don’t recall the subsequent early purchases, but I know the rest of The Beatles’ albums and a lot of The Who was in there. In musical terms, I had very narrow interests back then.

I actually still buy CDs, which (mostly) don’t have any DRM hassles, and for older stuff are cheaper than iTunes. I’m also not super-confident my iTunes collection will be intact in another 20 years.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

8 replies on “Shiny discs”

Nice memories, Daniel. Yes, I wonder what media we’ll be using in ten or twenty year’s time. Probably not invented yet.
I recall hopping in a man’s car in the mid-1970s and being impressed with his cassette player. Your kids probably won’t know what a cassette is!

My first CD player was a slightly balky Teac unit that was handed down from my father … my first CD (before I had the player) was UB40’s Rat In The Kitchen which my brother got for me at the Camberwell market … the one truly special feature of this player was that if you held down the play button as you powered it up, it would start playing immediately. Two days after discovering this feature, and I was waking up to Pink Floyd’s first track from Dark Side Of the Moon, Time with those glorious chiming clocks …

My first real experience of CDs came when I was about 12. I’d been saving pocket money and the money I earned from coxing my parents rowing teams for about two years and had managed to put away about $300. Mum had encouraged me to hold onto all of it until we went away on holiday so I could buy myself something overseas. I settled on a Philips (if I remember correctly) portable CD player. It had advanced features such as “2 seconds shock absorption” which meant I could take at least 3 hurried steps before the CDs started skipping. It also only set me back about $280 of the total $300 thanks to the getting the item duty free.

The same day I obviously had to buy some CDs and upon seeing that I really couldn’t make up my mind between The Presidents of the United States of America’s self titled debut album and Oasis’ masterpiece ‘(What’s the story) Morning Glory’, Mum kindly offered to pay for one of the two. I’m fairly certain upon hearing me sing “Millions of peaches, peaches for free” upon the ten-billionth time she regretted making that offer.

This would have been late 1995.

The CD player got pretty much constant use until about early 2002 when I unfortunately crushed the thing in my school bag under the weight of many books. It actually still worked after this, but only if you squeezed the sides of the top so that the bent shape wouldn’t physically stop the CD. By that point there were much better models on the market for about $30 and they’d become pretty much disposable. I never did buy another one though.

With the exception of a few local artists that I’ve enjoyed seeing live and decided to support, I haven’t bought a CD in about 5 years. I pretty much buy everything either digitally (and only if it comes without DRM), or on vinyl which I simply enjoy the ritual of. I’m also a blatant music pirate, but I don’t feel guilty about this, as piracy has introduced me to so many bands that I’ve supported through seeing live shows, or through buying vinyl and DVDs etc.

Actually my most treasured CD-player like item was the MP3-capable players I had in 1998 or so … the compressed format and internal memory cache meant the disc could stop completely (or run really really slowly) … whilst still pumping out tunes

I’m a big purchaser of the physical item as well. Starting off in the 1970s I have oodles of LPs. I want something more than a digital download..I love the booklets, the posters, the ephemera.

Carlos Santa’s Lotus LP or all the stuff that came with Pink Floyd’s LP “Dark Side of the Moon” – you weren’t getting music, you were getting a multi-layered cultural artifact.

I still have the CD player I bought in 1990, a Sony 5-CD Carousel model. It replaced the Kenwood carousel CD player that went beserk two hours after I started using it. I can’t recall which CD was my first, but it was probably a Pink Floyd or Tranvision Vamp album.

My first ever CD was Dire Straits’s Brothers in Arms, which I played on my parent’s player. This now sits amongst several hundred of its brethren. I still buy CDs and have bought very little music on line, particularly as Itunes is such a rip-off for Australians.

I got my own first CD player in 1991 – a boom box with radio, twin cassette and CD player. This still works and I use it out in the backyard for music or radio while entertaining or gardening. I even have an old discman player stored away in its box somewhere, for when you wanted to jog while listening to music (and the music jogged along with you ;-). Wonder if a museum wants to buy it?

My CDC lasted maybe 18 years…. I upgraded to a 6 CD changer which lasted around 10 years. Now I have 2 400CD changers :-) never bought any music online, can’t see me doing it either.

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