Neither the dot-com bubble or the more recently burst housing bubble have got shit on the compact disc bubble of the '90s. And the reasons are precisely why the recording industry is preparing to officially announce the death of the CD.
CDs are supercheap to make, way cheaper than either vinyl or cassette, especially on the mass production level. But somehow Specs, Virgin Megastore, and other now-extinct digital disc pushermen still managed to charge upwards of $20 for one disc. The irony is that the vinyl-to-cassette-to-CD transition inherently introduced the technology that would undo physical music formats forever: digitization.
The world went from getting seriously ripped off to perpetrating intellectual property theft on a daily basis, leaving CDs in the dust, along with some of our other favorite obsolete music formats.
5. Thomas Edison's Wax Phonographic Cylinders
Ol' T.E. was the OG audiophile. America's greatest inventor's wax cylinders are the grandpappy of the industry surrounding a suite of music as a commercial unit that may be bought and sold. Next time you meet someone who tells you vinyl is their preferred medium, ask them if they've ever heard Dark Side of the Moon on wax cylinder.
4. Gramaphones You Have to Crank
The gramaphone record was Edison's chief competitor and the chief proponent of his demise in the world of audio. We like it because you gotta put a little work into listening. No such thing as a free lunch, ya hippie.
3. LearJet Stereo 8 Portable 8-Track Player
We've chosen this particular brand of 8-track because of the bonus pain-in-the-ass of having to restructure albums around LearJet's inflexible formatting. Most albums were forced to rearrange tracklisting or suffer long gaps of awkward silence between tracks. Lou Reed recorded extra music for his album Berlin to compensate for the extra time.
The MiniDisc was huge in Japan (of course), but we're pretty sure everyone in the US just popped their first MDs into the car stereo CD player never to be seen again. Jammed up the stereo too. These things suck.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
1. Compact Discs: To the Underground
Now that compact disc production is on its way out, the medium is about to plunge straight underground. Just like vinyl and cassette, cheap CD (and CD-R!) pressings will soon be the new cool thang. Get ready for a fresh fetish format!