My history of portable music players goes back a while and for reasons which will become clear at the end, I decided taking a short trip though it might be fun. Here goes nothing!
It must have been somewhere in the late ’90s that my parents got me an Aiwa cassette player. This was the first I ever had (or can remember having). You could also record with it and it had a loudspeaker, it was quite amazing for me for that time. I’m afraid that’s all the info I have, I couldn’t find any relevant pictures, though I will try to dig up some of my own older ones.
Some years later (I’d say 2000 or 2001), I got a Creative Jukebox. Now this was technology at its best. This thing was fantastic. Expensive, but fantastic.
It was an MP3 player, had a 6GB harddrive, LCD screen and controls. You could make playlists and search for songs. I think it weighed about one pound without batteries, making it not-as-portable as you would expect. But I do remember long hikes on which I would be holding it in my hand to prevent the harddrive from being damaged while in my backpack. Last I remember, I gave it to a friend of mine in highschool, still mostly functional.
Around 2003-2004, I decided that the Jukebox was a little bit too big for my needs. So, Ovi sold me his old Sony Minidisc Walkman.
Now in many ways, this was a step back. A disc’s capacity at normal quality was 90 minutes and you had to also carry discs with you if you wanted to change them. Plus, recording on the discs was hell (I didn’t have the proper cable and no money to buy it, so it wasn’t a “data transfer”, it was an old fashioned audio recording… play it on one part, record on the other, in real time). But, the small size advantage and much better behavior when movement and shocks were involved meant it was worth it for me (at that time still an avid mountain biker).
It was also probably around that time that I started listening to radio on my mobile phone. The Nokia 7210 allowed me to do that and it quickly became the player of choice for long high school days and bus rides.
By fall 2005, my interest in music players had declined. I was driving at that time, which mean I had music in my car for all my trips and at high school the phone-radio would do just fine. My outdoor biking trips had become increasingly rare and I still had the minidisc player for that.
Fall 2006, I change my phone to Nokia 6131.
This baby could actually play mp3s as long as you put a memory card in. Fantastic is not enough to describe it. It meant I had a player with me at all times without stuffing my pockets and finally a player that had absolutely no moving components. And if I got bored I could always switch back to the old radio. This was great, I didn’t think I would ever change it. But…
… I did. In 2008, I decided to get an iPod touch.
It was – as you can notice – the first iPod I ever got and it was mostly the touchscreen and apps that convinced me to buy it (I pretty much wanted an iPhone, but didn’t want to pay for the data plan), but nonetheless it quickly became my main music player. Some things were better about it, such as quality of sound and the fact that I could use any headphones with it, but I hated not having a remote for it (which I did for the phone).
August 2009, I finally changed my phone, since the previously mentioned 6131 is starting to fall apart after three years (although still functional, mind you!). A fan of touchscreens and open source technologies, I decided to get the gorgeous HTC Hero and since I can only carry so many touchscreens in my pockets, I am in the process of finding a new master for the iPod. Of course, the HTC also plays music and with a very nice interface (I promise to write about it soon)… but for the first time in many years, this might not matter. Because…
… I have decided to stop using portable music players (shock!). Sure, I will still probably use them on occasion (transatlantic flights redefine boredom and you can only read and watch films for so many hours before your eyes start complaining), but I do not want to use them anymore on a regular basis. And of course, since it’s me we’re talking about, I have to make a big case about it. So here are my reasons:
– maybe the most obvious, I am seriously concerned about hearing damage; I have never tested myself to see how well I hear, but I do believe that these past few years of prolonged listening to music have had an impact
– there’s a matter of repetition… I have a lot of songs, but if you listen to music all the time, at some point it just looses its magic. It might sound weird, but I’ve always had a thing for music and I don’t want it to go away. Too much of anything is not good.
– a big argument is the social one; I just hate it when everyone around you has their headphones on and they’re completely isolating themselves; it’s beginning to be very widespread and – in all honesty – it’s horrible. I don’t think I can stop it, but at least I can choose to not join it. At this rate, people will just completely stop talking to one another soon.
So I guess this is my personal history of music players. I wouldn’t want to say it stops here, we’ll wait and see what technology comes up with in the future. But, I feel that being a “melomaniac” for many years, I have developed a much deeper respect for music than to have it booming in my ears 24/7. That being said, I’ll leave you now and go listen to some Leonard Cohen 🙂