Thursday, July 31, 2008
There have been a bunch of great gadgets that supply people with portable music. Surprisingly the first portable music gadgets were available about one hundred years ago. These devices played records and were powered by springs that could be wound up. Since these early devices were spring powered, they didn't require electricity, and that went a long way toward offsetting their bulk in making them portable.
When audio devices switched over to being electrically powered, they took a break from being particularly portable. Part of this was created by the need for vacuum tubes in audio devices- radios specifically. In fact, the first radio sets were huge affairs that were built into wooden cabinets and generally stationary fixtures in people's living rooms.
The invention and wide spread adoption of the transistor- which replaced the vacuum tube- made audio devices portable again. These audio gadgets came in a wide variety of shapes and styles. For example, there was the battery operated radio that has varied throughout the years from being simple, single speaker devices to the massive boom boxes of the nineteen eighties. There have also been a number of portable tape recorders and players (also built into boom boxes), as well as portable CD players.
One particularly popular idea for portable audio gadgets has been the portable cassette deck, often referred to as the Walkman after the name that Sony gave to its version of this device. These gadgets could play audio cassettes and generally had AM/FM radios built into them as well, and played their audio over headphones. Portable CD players like the Discman, also followed this same general concept, only with a CD deck replacing the cassette deck.
Then, in the late nineteen nineties, portable MP3 players became available. MP3 players, or more accurately digital music players because of their ability to play more audio formats than MP3's, have the advantage of using flash memory to store audio rather than audio cassettes or compact discs. This allows a single portable audio playing gadget to hold hundred of songs that can be played back either in a preprogrammed order or a random sequence. The audio tracks for these gadgets are generally purchased on the Internet and then downloaded to the digital audio device. This has also caused a different kind of dynamic in the music industry where the album is becoming obsolete as people buy songs individually.
Newer gadgets that use flash memory have moved beyond audio playback. Some of these devices can also play video on built in LCD screens and most can display digital photos on their screens. The pictures can be downloaded from the Internet or a digital camera and the video is often bought online and then downloaded in much the same way the music is. These devices can also display video that was recorded on a digital camcorder and then loaded onto a computer before being downloaded to the gadget! Some of these gadgets have gotten so sophisticated that they can even record video themselves- either through a digital camera or off of TV signals.
Portable gadgets that are capable of entertainment just keep getting more and more functional!