Sunday, August 23, 2015

Technology Prediction Fail : Recorded Music

Without getting too detailed, recorded music was originally on a cylinder but were soon superseded around WW I by flat vinyl records. They held the market for a long time despite the arrival of Stereo 8 cartridges. I used to have all my LP records in plastic sleeves that sealed to keep out dust and no LP was played without carefully being wiped by a special dust attracting cloth. I even set the weight of the playing arm to an absolute minimum lightness to preserve quality.

What LPs failed to compete against was the convenience of the cassette tape, that became popular around the 1970's. They took over the recorded music scene. The LP looked set to follow the original cylinder recordings, although they had a small, devoted following that kept them in existence.

While the cassette was convenient, quality soon dropped if the cassette player heads weren't kept clean. Sound quality was not up to the standard of LPs despite Dolby and other systems to improve it. Digitalising of music meant that the Compact Disc was invented and they took off during the late 1980's. The cassette was soon left in its dust, although a few still work with them.

Just when the CD looked to be the way for years to come, the Internet became a medium where people could download music. With portable devises to receive and playback music, not only was the CD in danger, so too were the stores that sold music.

Most music today is transmitted to us rather than bought as hard copy. Amazingly the LP is making somewhat of a comeback as the quality and the way the brain receives music from that medium (I have heard) is the best way. However, it seems that music will mainly be sent to us rather than brought via a physical medium.

Anyone that thought the cassette would kill the LP and the CD both of them have only been partially correct. The fact that the LP is reviving is one prediction few, if any, saw coming. And who anticipated that music would be transmitted to us as digital files? One is doomed to fail when trying to make technological predictions.

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