My earliest memory of music is probably my mom’s Thriller album. I remember the vinyl jacket – Michael Jackson clad in black & white just glowing and laying back casually, looking like coolest guy I’d ever seen. At 34, my memory isn’t what it used to be, so there may be earlier memories buried deep down in my subconscious and forgotten dreams, but when you think about it, in 1983, what album mattered more than Thriller? So it’s no surprise that it may be my first memorable music memory, if you will.
This nostalgia got me to thinking about how my music listening has evolved over the years. Here’s a visual tour through the evolution. I’ll limit words to just the captions and headings. Let’s call it a “Music Map.” (Credit to coworker Sheila L for the name)
1983 – 1987: A Thrilling Start
This image is roughly what I remember: circular nobs in front, plastic dust cover, faux wood body, and boxy speakers with that soft cushiony cover over the speakers.
1987 – 1990: “Quick, Press Record! That’s My Favorite Song!”
We had a dual cassette deck similar to this one. This was the extent of ‘portable’ for us during this time. Cassette to cassette recording!
And we had a floor system too. Not as nice as this one, but you get the idea.
1990 – 1992: The Walkman
My first Walkman
And of course, the canary-yellow sports version
1992 – 1997: CD’s, Finally!
Christmas 1993, I remember it well. My first CD player looked something like this. only it was a dual cassette deck.
Sony Discman: My first portable CD player, constant skips and all.
1997-2000: MP3s, Napster, and Birth of Online Piracy (on Dial-up Connections!)
A slow-as-molasses Intel Celeron computer. Check. A 56K dial-up connection. Check. Twenty minutes to download 1 song? Check.
Winamp was the first software-based music player I really locked on to.
It was an all-you-can-download buffet while it lasted.
2000 – 2005: The Struggle to Find a Permanent Post-Napster Solution
Audiogalaxy: Fast and east to use…and too good to last
Limewire: The rise of file-sharing clients. Watch out for viruses, though!
Stacks and stacks of blank CDs for burning
MiniDisc Player: This thing was like $170!! Held 30 songs per minidisc!
First keychain MP3 player. An off-off-off brand Hong Kong knock off. of a knock off A whole 256 megabytes!!!!
2005 – 2009: Better Later Than Never to iPod Era
iPod nano 1st gen: My family chipped in to buy me an 8GB Nano for my 27th birthday. Sleekest device I’d ever held to that point. Still holds up today from a design standpoint.
iPod nano 3rd gen: My wife even joined the act. We bought his and hers 3rd gen iPod nanos in 2007. I even saw a bunch of TV on this, including all 7 seasons of ‘The Shield’
2009 – 2012: The Right Touch
iPod touch: First touchscreen device. I smartly waited until the 2nd gen model. I think I spent maybe 6 straight hours downloading apps after unboxing it.
iPhone 3GS: My first iPhone. 3GS in white. After only 2 months with the iPod touch, I had to scratch the itch and finally unify my devices. And of course I bribed my wife with an iPhone 3G of her own.
Let me just combine the next three images. I eventually upgraded to each of these iPhones (16 GB each time) after the 3GS. Yes, I know I have a problem.
Today: Tapping Those Apps
iOS Built-in Music Player: Doesn’t get as much mileage as it used to, but still does the job for my increasingly small on-device music collection.
Pandora: Better DJ than I could ever hope to be. Free. Saved many a dull party from an early demise.
Audiogalaxy: Remember Audiogalaxy free downloads back in early 2000s? Yup , same company. Only this time on the up and up. Direct streaming access to my entire music library from my home media server, which is maybe 500 GB worth. Unfortunately, Dropbox bought them up and the plug was pulled on 1/31/13. R.I.P.
Amazon Cloud Player: Instant access to all my Amazon MP3 purchases (yes, it happens on occasion). I can stream or download to device.
Spotify (Windows): Mobile app premium account is $10/month, but it’s free on desktop. When I use my laptop (yes, it happens on occasion), I get unlimited access to almost any song you can imagine. Ad supported but totally worth it. Free music buffet is back!…sort of.
gMusic: In wake of Audiogalaxy’s demise, I needed another music library-streaming solution. Missing my Beatles due to file incompatibility, but other than that, almost perfect replacement. Even better in some ways because Google still has music I deleted from my HDD prior.
Update: I Almost Forgot All The iPod Docks / Speakers
Still own this model. Rechargeable 5-hour battery life. Portable. AM/FM.
My office desk solution. Saw maybe a dozen 2010 World Cup matches on this dock.
Rocketfish Bluetooth speaker. Terrible sound quality, but hey it’s wireless and has a rechargeable battery! Don’t use it much, but I got it for $5 refurbished so it’s a nice backup solution in a pinch.
My newest Apple gadget. Does a fine job streaming audio to my Sony 5.1 surround system.