|Sorry Marty, we still need roads|
Anyhoo, one of those brave new inventions was the Compact Disk. That's CD for short. I recall the first time I heard one in college. I wondered if that was an improvement or not. The fellow playing the CD assured me that I would be foolish not to see the obvious superiority in this latest new tech compared to dusty, rusty old tapes and records.
Well, we must be getting foolish. I saw on the news that for the first time since 1987, vinyl records outsold CDs. I have no doubt part of this is less the rise in vinyl as much as the decline in CDs owing to modern digital music and downloading. Nonetheless, I find it interesting that vinyl records continue to increase in popularity in our digital age.
Our family has been amassing a collection of vinyl over the last few years. Two of my sons are seriously into them - both of them being among the musical ones in the family. They insist vinyl is far richer and deeper sounding than CDs, which often come off as rather sterile. I think they're right. I can certainly tell the difference. It reminds me of digital versus film. I'm sorry, but the best digital lacks something that traditional film has. The same is true for vinyl records.
Of course CDs weren't perfect to begin with. The original selling point was that CDs, like cockroaches, could survive anything. Once you have a CD it will last forever, so said the sales pitches. We know that is far from true. CDs wear out long before the inevitable scratch makes them useless. And while only the worst damage can permanently disable a record, one minor scratch is all it takes to make a CD worthless. Plus as a fellow in a local store put it, he sees records from the 1940s that sound fine, while CDs from the 80s are faded and muffled sounding - and those are the CDs that actually work.
There were other issues. For instance, an early and well known example of CD limitations was the Abby Road album by The Beatles. The song 'I Want You' famously repeats itself over and over as white noise - usually avoided in recording - builds and builds in the background. Problem? CDs eliminated white noise. Therefore the CD versions of Abby Road have an improvised sound effect to duplicate the white noise. If you listen to the CD and the album, you can't miss the difference.
But there you have it. CDs, once part of the great leaps forward in tech and invention, are on their way out. And the old dinosaurs, those old vinyl records, are making a comeback. I wonder if there will be other examples of the old latest tech fading away and being replaced by pre-tech preferences. I'm thinking the rise in boardgames over the years. Who knows, maybe sitting around the living room and telling stories will become the rage in another few years.