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Tomorrow's World

Dave Woodhall harks back to a golden age when the summers were warmer, beer was thruppence a pint and a new breakthrough in aural pleasure was going to last forever.

Do you remember when CDs first came out? Every Sunday I’d be listening to Anne Nightingale and she’d announce in hushed tones, “This is Dire Straits, on compact disc,” like it was the Oracle. If ever a band was made for a technological innovation it was dire Bloody Straits and CDs.

Anyway, Tomorrow’s World had made a great thing about this new audio sensation and part from the sound quality its big attraction was that a compact disc was nigh-on indestructible. You could bury it under concrete, spread butter and jam over it, use it as a Frisbee and it’d still play. For those of us brought up on scratched records and broken tapes as an occupational hazard here was a minor miracle.....

.......How many knackered CDs have you got? If you’re like me, loads. I’ve had many more of them go wrong than anything that went before them.

The latest died today – one minute it was playing nicely, the next hop, skip, jump and stick. Another one for the bin.

It’s not as though I’m playing them on inferior equipment, either. My current player’s a few years old but would cost about £22,000 new. Admittedly, for that price, you also get wheels, seats and an engine, but that’s by the by.

CDs aren’t what they were promised to be. And neither, come to think of it, are most other revolutionary new breakthroughs. DVDs suffer from the same problem while DAB radio is a hazard in itself with tuning problems and nowhere near the number of stations that were promised. How’s your iPod?

Walkmans (walkmen?), video disc players, Betamax. All of them came and went. Meanwhile, vinyl sales last year were at their highest since Soundscan began tracking them in 1991. We bought CDs to replace the knackered old albums of our youth, now we’re apparently buying vinyl again to replace our worn out CDs.

The more things change the more they do indeed stay the same. Anyone want to buy an 8-track cartridge player?



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