October 1 – Outmoded Inventions Day

Posted on October 1, 2015

Today is CD Player Day!

On this date in 1982, the first ever commercially available compact disk player was released. You might guess that it was produced by Sony, and first sold in Japan – and those guesses would be right!

What you would probably not guess is that it was sold for around 168,000 yen – what would be about U.S. $1750 today!

So much money!

The first CD player was kinda big!
The people who want to be first with every new invention have to pay a lot for the privilege. Back in the late 1970s, I was the first person on my block to own a home computer (actually, the first person that I knew to own one!) – and I paid about $3,000 for a computer that was larger than most a 3-ring binder, that had to be hooked up to a color TV (and that's when TVs were really, really thick!) because there was no monitor. Worse yet, there was only 64 kilobytes of memory!

If you use an inflation calculator to compute how much my late-1970s $3,000 would be today, it's a shocking TEN THOUSAND dollars! Yikes!

Nowadays, a teeny-in-comparison iPhone might have as much as128 gigabytes of memory – which is more than a million times as much memory!!! And such a memory-heavy iPhone might be pretty pricey – but it's still less than a thousand dollars (ten times less than my pitiful 64 KB computer!).

Of course, the prices of CD players dropped hugely, quickly, as well. You can buys one, these days, for less than 20 bucks!

Old folks like me – people who had bought audio-cassette tape versions of all our favorite LP records, because record players aren't found in cars and can't be easily carried about, boom-box style – weren't too eager to buy all the same music again in a new format. 

Sure, compact discs were pretty in all their silvery – rainbow-y glory...but I remember thinking, “I already own all the Doors music in both LPs and audio cassettes. Do I need it all in CD, too?”

By the mid-1990s, it turned out that, yes, I did. After all, most cars at that point had only CD players – no tape players!

I was a bit comforted by some people reassuring me that CDs were soooo wonderful – combining great quality with durability – that I would never need to buy music in another format again.

This modern CD boom box is a bit
large, too - but most of it is speakers!
And it's portable!
Sigh. You just knew that was a silly, silly thought, right? Nowadays music is much more common in a digital format – perhaps moving it from device to device, or storing it on the cloud, or streaming it on Spotify or Pandora or...?

Anyway, I didn't think that CD players would be pretty much out-modeled already...but they pretty much are.

Today is also Model T Day!

On this date in 1908, the first Model T Ford came off the assembly line. Like so many other sorts of technology, automobiles were a super luxury at first. The Model T was actually designed to be affordable – Henry Ford wanted to make a car that ordinary folks could buy. He kept his prices down by making just one model of car, so the parts were interchangeable from one car to another, and by creating an efficient assembly line.

In its heyday, the Ford Motor Company was producing as many as 8,900 Model Ts a day! After producing them for two decades – after producing more than 15 million cars! – Ford stopped producing that model.

The Model T is the most influential automobile in American (and maybe world) history. It is said to have put the nation on wheels! It pushed the need for better roads, and it reshaped the nation thanks to urban sprawl into suburban spaces. It revolutionized mass production (thanks to the interchangeable parts and assembly line), and it helped establish a strong middle class. Sunday drives, motels, family outings – a lot of other stuff came about because more people were able to be mobile!

Also on this date:

National Day of China

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