I was recently charged with creating a short, social reunion video that played on alumnus’s sense of nostalgia. After toying around with the usual ideas — hairstyles, clothing, world events, etc. — I arrived at the progression of musical playback. Using a mix of stock video and audio sound effects, I quickly cycled through a few generations of music technology.
A few weeks after completing the video, I saw this article on Pitchfork about the Discman and other portable music devices of 1998. Of all the devices I have used to listen to music through the years — from my various turntables to the trusty Walkman that got me through so many paper routes — the Discman is the one for which I have the least amount of nostalgia.
Perhaps that’s because the compact disc itself was such a poor format, unfriendly aesthetically to both the ears and eyes. During my time working in a used record store, I cannot count the times I saw customers bring in CDs for trade-in that has been used as ashtrays or coasters. Unlike vinyl, or even cassettes, I don’t expect the CD to make a comeback.