I read a great post about watches at Silverfox-Whispers recently. It made me think about the changes in the world through my lifetime. I suspect my own "fast-track" of changes through life will never rival that of my grandmother (b. 1879- d. 1966) who remembered moving to Kansas by covered wagon, saw the automobile metamorphoses, the development of the airplane through jets, and was disbelieving when men went into space. She witnessed two World Wars. She cooked on a wood stove, a gas stove and an electric stove; washed clothes on a washboard, in a manual wringer washer, an electric wringer washer and finally an automatic electric washer; ironed with an iron heated on the wood stove and curled hair with a curling iron heated likewise. The progress of industrial America was swift and by her later years, she struggled to understand much of it. No, I think my world, while progress has been amazing, will not equal the mileage of hers.
But I was brought to thoughts of my lifetime's industrial progress by Maria's recounting of watches. And I began to think about how various "tools" have changed in my years. I decided to take a look at one. I chose music. I considered computers, but those don't really span my life. The first time I heard about a computer was when I was in school, I think in junior high or perhaps high school, late 1950s and early 1960s. A computer filled a whole room at that time and did amazing little compared to the ones we have today. But computers in my own life experience date from just the late 1980s, so while they have rocketed in advances in that time, they are not really representative of my whole life. Thus I decided to look at music. Or rather how music has been delivered in my lifetime. And no, I didn't listen to music on this device!!
When I was a little kid, music came from records. Most people today remember them, although younger ones quite possibly haven't heard music played from them. In my younger childhood those records were 78s, discs around 10 or 12 inches across, usually with just one song on each side. They were later referred to as "78s" because the turned on the turntable at 78 rpm (revolutions per minute). They were played on "record players." The sound was tinny and scratchy, especially after they had been played a lot of times. They didn't last like later ones did, as they were make of an early, soft plastic. And they broke pretty easily if dropped or bumped. If the needle skipped across the record, it scratched, and thereafter, you heard a "click" every time it passed over the scratched area. But a poor as the quality was, they were treasures, played over and over while we listened and sometimes danced around the room.
Then in the 50s a new kind of record was released. It was the 45, a smaller version of the 78, and these had a big hole in the middle, so we all had to buy adapters for the record players to accommodate the new records which were about 6 inches across. Most had one song on each side, but occasionally they would release one with two songs on each side. Now those were bargains!
As I teenager, I collected 45s, like most teens did (and do in other forms of music now). A bonus was that I worked in a record shop after school and Saturdays, so I was on the first wave to own each new release. I worked there from the 9th grade until I graduated, and I had quite the collection! We had to have adapters like this one to snap in the big hole of the 45s so they would work on the spindle of the record players. I never figured out why they made them with those big holes, other than to make us buy new record players for the new records. Dumb move. The Edsel of records.
During this time, I also began investing in "record albums." Also called "33s," or "LPs," they played at a slower speed, 33 rpm, were much larger, and that combo made it possible to have several songs on each side. Over the next thirty or so years, I collected LPs, amassing around 300 of them, I think. But I listened to them, lots! While I was going through college, I studied with classical music and earphones. When I cleaned house, the rock and roll LPs were playing.
Something new came out during this same time, 8 track tapes. Those were short lived, and I never got into them. They were big and bulky. However the next generation of tapes, cassettes, were enormously popular, and I liked them. I copied many of my LPs onto cassettes and played them in my car.
Then in the late 1980s, another form of music came about, digital music on compact discs, or CDs. Now I own over 500 of those. I listen to them at home, in the car, from my computer and I've copied them to my iPod. I do love my music, and this love affair has lasted for over sixty years now, with various new forms with which it is produced, and over the many devices for hearing it.
First record players (monoral, really poor quality, but we didn't know it!) and AM radio (but we just called it "radio" because FM wasn't known yet).
Then "HiFi" was invented, giving a better, fuller sound to records, followed in a few years with stereophonic or stereo sound which was definitely a better quality sound. Quad sound came next with speakers located in the four corners of a room or car. As we became acquainted with FM radio, these newer sound systems made a great match.
A few years ago I found internet radio. I loved it, being able to listen to good music of my choosing with surround sound speakers all around the room while I was working in my office.
These days, it is satellite radio (Sirius is my favorite) which I commonly listen to with my home theater system in the living room and via the Bose Wave in the bedroom.
The music is the same. I still listen to essentially the same things I did a long time ago. I enjoy music I heard thanks to my older siblings in the 1940s and 1950s, my own music, rock and roll, from the 1950s through the 1970s, classical music, blues and jazz. It's all good. It's actually better because of the new ways of delivering and receiving it. If you'd told me in the 1960s what music and devices would be like now, I wouldn't have believed you. Nah, it would just be too weird to believe what has happened. But I'm surely glad it has!
I have to go now. I need to hear some music. Now, let's see .... iPod? Satellite radio? CDs? Hmmmm.