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The Past, Present and Future of Portable Music


Today, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't have a portable music device. And it seems like every electronic gadget these days, from cell phones to watches, is able to play music. This, however, wasn't always the case. Below, we look at how we got to where we are in portable music and take a wild stab at where we may be going in the coming years.


* Prior to the technological advances of the twentieth century, portable music was a luxury reserved for those of the upper echelon of society. During these times, portable music took the shape of serfs and servants who would jog alongside their lord while he lounged in his velvet-cushioned carriage.

Man Power Mobile Music


* With the introduction of Thomas Edison's phonograph, people began to hear recorded music for the first time. But using this device on-the-go proved particularly difficult for the everyday commuter, since some phonographs could weigh as much as 250 pounds.



* The great-grandmother of the iPod was the Regency TR-1. This was pocket-sized portable transistor radio was capable of picking up AM frequencies and...well that's about it. At the time, the TR-1 sold for $49.95, equivalent to about $325 in 2011 dollars.

Pod Ancestor


* The go-to portable device in the 1970s was the portable 8-track player. At the time, users could pop in an 8-track tape, and then take their John Denver bliss to the roller derby, the racquetball courts or wherever else they may have wanted to hear sweet tunes.

Dynamite 8-track


* Perhaps the most iconic "portable" music device was the boombox. From Spike Lee classics to John Cusack romances, the boombox made personal soundtracks possible. The massive weight of these musical behemoths did lead to some serious cases of hip-hop shoulder dislocation, however.

The Boombox


* Sony released the first portable cassette, which would go on to become a huge success. One reason could be Sony's decision to ship the device with headphones. Gone were the days of having to share one's music with anyone else. So, if you happened to be a Rick Astley fan, this little gadget could help you keep anyone from finding out.


1984-EARLY 200s

* Premiering in 1984, the Discman took the world by storm with its innovative compact disc playing ability. The anti-skip feature, which was introduced in the early '90s, would go on to become particularly popular among the grunge-skater crowd and allowed for uninterrupted Nirvana listening during Ollie impossibles.

Discman Grunge


* The real game changer came in 2001 in the form of Apple's iPod. While Apple didn't invent the MP3 player, they revolutionized it to do everything you could ever need (or not need) from an MP3. This would eventually lead many to forget that the iPod was originally meant for music.



* As devices become slimmer, smaller and faster, there may soon be a time when all one's musical media will be stored in a device as thin as a piece of paper and as small as a child's thumb. "But how will you see the screen?" you might ask. Through the use of multi-dimensional, holographic imaging...of course.

Micro Media Player


* The ultimate portable device of the future will take the form of a well-placed microchip. The chip will attach to the brain stem and be capable of picking up on neurotransmitters, which will allow it to create playlists based on the listener's mood. To hear the music, a headset will most likely attach to one's cochlea, which will provide for the ultimate surround sound experience.

Full Embedded Surround Sound

The Past, Present and Future of Portable Music

shared by amie on May 13
1 comment
These days it seems that almost every electronic device is capable of playing some sort of music. From the cassette players of the 80s, the Walkman of the 90s, to the iPods of the 00s the evolution o...




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