OMG OMG OMG!!!
Buzzfeed recently pegged something that I had entirely forgotten about: The moment when we learned that due to amazing new advances in technology, we (the unwashed public) would now be able to burn our own CDs.
Now, the caveat - at least at the beginning - was that this only applied to the Sony MiniDiscs. Which required you to buy a Sony MiniDisc player. Sony may have called this "the biggest step yet in personal music entertainment," but for the millions and millions of people who did not own a MiniDisc player (and had no interest in buying one), it was only half-hearted good news.
I remember reading about this fancy new technology and being pretty excited, until I realized that it was only for Sony MiniDiscs. "Well," I remember thinking, "I guess this means that maybe we will be able to record on regular CDs soon." And lo, with the ever-forward march of technology, that ability was eventually granted to the regular public. Eventually.
In 1990 you could record your own CD, but you had to own a "washing machine-sized" piece of specialized equipment to do so, and it would set you back about $35,000 "not including the required external ECC circuitry for data encoding." By 1995 HP had brought the size and cost down, offering the first CD burner that cost less than $1,000. But it was still a rarefied technology, and us regular schlubs were still using either floppy disks or single-purpose devices like Zip drives to store our data.
Crazy as it sounds, it wasn't until the late 1990s that CD burners became commonplace. Like many people, my first CD burner was an external device about the size of a thick hardback book. It destroyed about as many discs as it burned, with a successful burn rate of around 50 percent.
These were the days when, through whatever strange voodoo, sometimes when you burned a disc you ruined it instead. You always had to check your disc after burning it to make sure it was readable. I still don't know if it was the fault of the cobbled-together hardware, the glitch-ridden software, or the new-to-mass-manufacture CD-Rs themselves.
Those were the days when you had to specify which kind of CD you wanted to buy. CD-R or CD-RW? The RWs cost twice as much, which was frustrating when you (inevitably) ruined them in the rewrite.
It's funny to think how far we have moved past those days, and how quickly we did so!