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Dead hardware. by Jayson
November 4, 2010, 2:40 pm
Filed under: Obituary | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In fairly quick order, Sony discontinued the tape Walkman and Panasonic discontinued the Technics 1200 family of turntables.

I guess this is the sphere of music and tech writing I’m tied into more, but there was a lot more Walkman coverage/nostalgia/mourning than there was for the 1200 series. Unsurprisingly, I cared more about the 1200’s passing than the Walkman’s.

image credit Ani-Bee

I grew up at the end of the tape era. I had tapes, I had a ton of them actually. My friends and I all traded dubbed copies of whatever music we got new on tape. Some people even dubbed their CDs on to tapes to pass around. But as previously stated, in other posts I had a mostly negative experience with tapes. One of the happiest days of my teenage years is when my folks bought me a Sony Discman, and I promptly went out and jammed to my first two CDs; Black 47 and The Cranberries. What a lot of writers really seemed to be waxing nostalgic for was the creation of the mixtape, the high degree of significance their efforts in creating mixtapes held for the people making them, and the targets of their affections that said tapes were made for. I missed all that completely; I never tried to punch in the access codes to someone’s heart by means of the precision crafted mixtape, nor did anyone ever hand me one trying to get to mine through my love of proto-grunge.  It’s not that I think nostalgia was bad, I just never had a period in my life where I could imagine myself in some early John Cusack romance movie.  That and I just bought a Walkman maybe 4-5 months ago and the last of them were junk. The cool Walkmen you see on random tumblr blogs are long gone, the last production ones are cheap things for the handful of senior citizens that want to listen to music “on the go” and never moved to CDs. Still it was cool be able to listen to the Pixies in the morning before the first bell rang.

See you at the crossroads.

The demise of the 1200 hit me harder. I’ll concede that I might be pretty out of touch here. I have this image of the DJ, not really in the in the club kind, but the turntablist. The cover to DJ Shadow’s classic Endtroducing; hunting for records, building their mixes. I can understand the club DJ, doing yeoman duty to keep the bodies moving not wanting to hassle with the records. In my limited experience, people don’t want to hear anyone mess with their music in that environment anyway, they just want to dance. Still, the 1200 was the icon of the DJ for me, right up until I heard they were canceled. Part of what Panasonic sited was the decline in use of wax in favor of different hardware and software solutions on the market. And I think that’s what gets me. Maybe this is hypocritical coming from a guy that draws in Adobe Illustrator a lot, but for me ‘Two iPads and a mic.” or “Flexing on the software package that simulates scratching and back queuing.” just doesn’t have any resonance. Again though, I really may have no idea what I’m talking about. I know there are better turntables for listening than the 1200, and maybe Numark is just offering so many more advanced features on their products that a 30 year old design can’t compete.

Regardless, the passing of the Walkman feels like an anecdote to me, the passing of the 1200 feels like the end of an era. The Walkman was a big deal when it was new but it hasn’t meant much to anyone in a present sense in a long time.

– Jayson

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1 Comment so far
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Respect to the twelve-hundred. The direct-drive deck arguably played a large part in the very existence of hip-hop.

Comment by ymatto




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