My Portable Music Devices: A History - Part 1

In 2010 I created a post that listed in chronological order all of my mobile phones from the very first family phone to the (then in the future) purchase of the iPhone 4. Since then I've had an iPhone 4, (several) iPhone 5, Nexus 4 and HTC One (M8), but I've not updated that post. Don't really feel there's a need to update it. But it did give me a little seed of an idea I've not explored - until now.

Since Joni's birth I have been examining my life before her and thinking about the things that I used to have as my priorities, and decided that it'd be fun to do a series of blog posts about this new-found stream of nostalgia, and make it a "thing". 

In the vein of the Favourite Computer Games series (Pt 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) over the next five days I present to you: My Portable Music Devices: A History. This is part 1.

The CD Walkman - Sony D-E400 (1998)

Ashamedly my memory of the CD Walkman's genesis is very fuzzy. I remember getting it (I think) but there will be some record of the Christmas I got it for (which I think is right - I didn't normally get massive presents for my birthday, but Christmas was fair game). I do remember it being a revelation - CDs were a new thing to me, having only started listening to music back in 1996 with a few compilation CDs (a post for another day) but the CD Walkman sat in my house for a few years before I really discovered music and it became my work horse through one of the most intensive moments in my life.

COURTESY OF SONYVINTAGE.COM ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

COURTESY OF SONYVINTAGE.COM ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The CD Walkman (which for the longest time I called a Discman) had some really cool features that were pretty innovative for the time and seem kind of quaint now. One was something called "ESP" which was electronic shock prevention. For you young kids out there who have never used a CD (that's compact disc, by the way) the CD Walkman spun the disc inside on a nice wee motor. The problem is that they are susceptible to being bumped, which will mean the disc will skip. The CD Walkman I had had a 10 second buffer that meant it was playing music from 10 seconds after the laser had read the disc, potentially meaning that by the time the skip had happened the laser had found it's place before the music was affected. Pretty neat.

Another feature that the E-D400 had was something called "Groove" that artificially amplified the bass on the tracks. I used it permanently for almost all my listening when using the player. One feature that I couldn't confirm if it was a real feature or just a coincidence was the storage of an extra disc. I noticed one day that the spindle that the disc was loaded onto had an extra few mm on it and I popped a second disc on top of the first disc that was being played, and it worked. There was no affect on the playback and the motor never felt like it was being over worked, which made me wonder if it had been designed in such a way that meant that two discs could be placed in the tray - one for listening and a second for storage. Back in the olden days you had to either chose wisely your album to listen to, make a mix-CD of tracks, or carry around a batch of jewel cases with older albums. 

A final really neat feature that I am certain was unique to my model was a rechargeable battery. The D-E400 ran with two AA batteries as normal, but the device came with two AA batteries that were sandwiched together that could be charged from the power point. The device obviously had an AC power adaptor, but plugging this in meant you could also charge the device - this was almost unheard of back then, with friends swapping in and out AA batteries constantly.

As I mentioned, the CD Walkman carried me through some pretty intensive times, namely my exam period. I carried the device around in my overcoat pocket and it was massive but so important. I covered it in stickers from the CDs I bought. I scratched it to utter shit. It was totally bomb proof though, something that probably couldn't be said of the devices that supplanted it...