Posts Tagged ‘audio’

Where’s my flying car?

Posted: July 23, 2009 in Stuff & nonsense
Tags: , , ,
State Of The Art...25 years ago.

Acceptable in the 80s...

The other day,I came across an online article about old technology,audio equipment specifically.It featured a cassette deck,which gave me a warm glow of nostalgia,memories of listening to the Top 40 on Radio 1 on a Sunday evening came flooding back.

The article went on to list the various features and functions of the tape deck such as Dolby Noise Reduction,High-Speed dubbing and Auto-Reverse…

Then suddenly I was gripped by a momentary clench of fear…


Because I couldn’t remember what Auto-Reverse meant.

This was a serious turn of events…because there was a time when such terms as auto-reverse were my ENTIRE life.

(For anyone reading this who has yet to start shaving,auto-reverse means that when the cassette reaches the end of one side,the tape deck automatically plays the other side without you having to physically take out the tape and turn it over yourself….look,it was all we had back then.)

Cassettes were THE listening/recording medium of the 80s.LP’s were still available of course but were not as convenient as tapes which could be listened to in your bedroom/ a car/on a Sony Walkman (ask your grandad)/recorded over almost endlessly.OK maybe they didn’t sound as good as CDs (ask your dad) but they hadn’t been invented yet.Well,they had but they hadn’t caught on.

I had hundreds of tapes…albums I couldn’t afford to buy I borrowed off my friends,made a recording on a blank tape (ooh just saying that…”blank tape” …makes me feel all funny inside…) I didn’t buy singles,I just taped them off the radio.And before you ask,yes, this was not entirely legal,and forced the record companies to print the phrase “home taping is killing music” on cassette versions of their albums at that time.Think illegal mp3 downloading,but retro.

I played them to death.

So why did i forget the very words I used to live by?

Because I’ve spent the last 5 years or so in thrall to the technology of the future.

Because we are living in the future,even though we’re all waiting impatiently for our flying cars,holidays on the moon and robot sex slaves….no wait that last one’s just me.

I vividly remember the release of a tape deck in which you could put 2 cassettes,play one and tape it onto a blank tape in the other slot.This was broadband…the future had arrived.I went through half a dozen such devices,wore them out.

Then…Sharp (yes I can still remember seeing the brochure…my friend sent away for it,we were so amazed) released IT.

It was a portable,2-deck cassette player….but the tape decks were BACK-TO-BACK….

SODDING WI-FI,I TELL YOU….we thought it had fallen through a hole in the space-time continuum,it was so futuristic.

(This was pretty much the highlight of my life in the 80s…but enough of that.)

Nowadays,I take such techno marvels as itunes and digital cameras and  in my stride,but I still expect it to work better than it does.I get stressed out if a webpage doesn’t load quickly enough,if my ipod crashes or the battery runs out on my iphone.The future is here…but it’s not quite here enough.

I have forgotten the time when I got pleasure from simple things like buying blank tapes,carefully writing the names of songs on the inlay cards and sitting poised over the pause button to begin recording a song on the radio without getting Bruno Brookes’ voice (try your mum for that one.)Space was at a premium then,a C90 cassette could hold 45 minutes of music on each side…that’s about 24 songs altogether…not quite up there with an iPod Touch.

Nevertheless the wave of bittersweet nostalgia  soon passed,and I went back to listening to the 10,000 songs I have on my iTunes…..because I love technology,adore gadgets.I don’t know how we ever got by without mobile phones,ipods,PCs,laptops and the like.Technology has its moment,and then is gone….replaced by something better.Only recently,we saw HD-DVD go to the Great Techno Graveyard In The Sky,to spend eternity with Betamax and 8 Track Cartridge.

We shall not mourn their passing…..because we now have something better,and better is always best.

Isn’t it?

Next time—Cocking A Snook