In the September issue of Mix magazine, my co-worker Clive Young wrote about cleaning out his basement and parting with some of the old tech he had amassed over the years. “Technology is encased in metal and hard plastics,” he wrote, “built to last because it’s sold by promising you the future, and that it will help take you there — so it’s always a slow-dawning shock to realize that the future has come and gone.”
The piece hit home for me for several reasons — Clive was cleaning in preparation of taking his daughter to college for the first time, and I had just cleaned out my basement prior to moving my daughter in for her senior year. The gear part struck me, too, as I have quite a few devices I should part with, but the memory of their use brings some comfort, so they stay.
I still have my old turntable that got hours and hours (and hours) of use, and I presume it would work again should I re-attach it to my receiver, but I won’t. I certainly am no vinyl romantic — it is fragile, difficult to maintain properly, and doesn’t sound nearly as good as modern formats. I may wax whimsically over the physicality of dropping a needle right into the right groove, but there are far more convenient ways to listen now, and I know I would tire quickly of the needle-drop and the guilt of the mounting pile of uncovered records that I need to wipe clean and get back into their sleeves as soon as possible. Just like the old days.
I also still have my Pioneer LaserDisc player which was state-of-the-art for a brief period of time and that I watched Jurassic Park on with my wife, who went into labor with our first son a week later. She still blames the movie.
I have noticed that same wistful tone when I hear dealers talk about the gear they used to install. Now that technology has made much of those installations easier and with far higher quality, there is still a special place in the industry’s hearts for the big, noisy projectors of old. Heck, they may not miss it, but talking about past HDMI problems is a quick way for integrators of a certain age to bond.
With particular tech, there are vivid memories of when you first encountered it, be it at a CEDIA Expo, CES, or your own showroom or home. The tech comes, the tech goes, but the memories and the feelings those experiences created remain — both for the client and the dealer.
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Clive concluded his editorial by saying it wasn’t the technology that he treasured, but the stories of the tech and the feelings it created. So, while the future has come and gone for the tech we are replacing, there are new futures to be had, and many more stories to be shared.
That said, I am still hanging on to my turntable and several boxes of old albums. The stories I had with them are great, but sometimes I need the visual reminder to kickstart the memories.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think this is just me. Drop me a quick email to let me know the outdated comfort tech you keep around!