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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Compact Disc

When you get to be my age, time warps a little bit. I still refer to music as "records" or "albums", as in "Have you heard the new U2 record?". So I was astounded to learn the the Compact Disc turned 30 yesterday. 30?  Yes it was introduced on October 1, 1982. It seems like just yesterday I was buying all my music on LP or cassette (I am not quite old enough to have been in on the 8-track craze).

After my initial shock at how old Mr. CD has gotten, I became impressed with his longevity. Thirty years is an insanely long time for anything in technology. And I still love CDs in the same way I loved record albums. I love opening them up, struggling to get the plastic and sticky stuff off and then going through the liner notes, photos and lyrics as I listen to it.

Music purchasing ,borrowing and listening has changed a lot over the years. First there were records, then Cassettes and CDs, and now there is digital content like iTunes and Freegal. I remember someone saying that CDs would be dead within a few years after iTunes came out. But the music CDs at the library still go out at about the same rate as they always have (which is a lot). Folks thought for a while that music would be sold mostly on flash drives but that hasn't caught on. Today I listen to most of my music on my computer, my phone or my iPod. My stereo broke last year and I haven't gotten around to replacing it. Maybe I won't.

Last year the library introduced Freegal, a service in which Des Plaines library card holders can download three songs each week for free. People love it. Their selection includes all of the music from the Sony catalog (which is huge, though not iTunes huge). The link to Freegal is at:

dppl.org/eDPPL

Today I still buy CDs. I occasionally will buy a song on iTunes, and regularly download songs from Freegal. I probably buy fewer CDs, but I cling to the ones I have and I don't want to see them go away.

4 comments:

Linda K. said...

Some of my best memories are of listening to Dick Biondi (yes, he's still alive and kickin') with my transister radio under my pillow so my mom wouldn't know I was up so late on a school night. Then I would go to the local record store on Saturday morning and buy the latest #1 song on ... a 45 record! I still have some of those 45s and even a 78 or two, mixed in with my CD's. Music, whatever the format, makes life so much richer.

Tracy G. said...

I will still buy CDs on occasion, but now it is always on iTunes since I will primarily use that to play them.

In regards to Freegal, I use the Wikipedia article listing Sony artists as a cheat sheet to know what I can look for on the database:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sony_Music_artists

Laura A. said...

I love Freegal, but I also love my CDs (and albums and turntable. Yes, they still make turntables!) And I like supporting my favorite artists by purchasing their music. For insight into the fate of a recording artist who did not receive his due royalties, in his case from overseas sales, I highly recommend the movie Searching for Sugar Man and the soundtrack featuring his songs as well.

Gus said...

My first CD was Peter Gabriel's brilliant "So". Still have it, too. I'm 41, so as a teen I first started buying music on cassettes, which I've had the pleasure (?) of explaining recently to my 8-year-old. "It holds music?"

You're right, though, 30 years is a long time for a single technology to be as popular as CDs are. Or *were*, I suppose.

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