When CDs Were Precious Objects

Remember a time when CD's were handled with kid gloves? No? Just me?

Compact discs used to be treated like diamonds. I exaggerate, but growing up, that's what it was like in my household. We were careful not to smudge it or besmirch the shiny surface. There were special solvents and lint-free wipes to erase any sacrilegious dirt from marring it. We were careful not to stack them one on top of the other for fear of ruining them.

Fast forward to today, and these once precious shiny objects have become practically obsolete. The music it once contained are now replaced by spotify, its data storage capacity replaced by google, or simply deposited on the cloud.

And recently, I found out that they're useful as up-cycled raw materials in kindergarten class.

Compact discs are now being handled by preschool aged children in art projects. My son transformed a rewritable CD into a flying bird hanging decorative object. Eyes, a beak, and a tail in colorful paper were pasted on the front and back. Yellow crepe paper was inserted through the whole, dangling from either side to look like feathers.

It's now staring at me staring at it hanging over our bedroom door, dangling helplessly as a soon to be discarded decorative object made by four year old hands.

What has the CD amounted to? Nobody buys them anymore. Just 30 odd years ago it was the height of hi-tech, with its promise of replacing vinyl records and the tantalizing possibility of having 600 floppy diskette's worth of data stored inside this itty bitty object.

The first time I used a CD player was back in the late 80's. It was my father's brand new acquisition. I had to beg for permission to use it, because us kids weren't allowed to touch it. Eventually, though, papa eased up on the no-touch rule, but only after making sure we'd been thoroughly briefed on the how-to's of CD player usage: no fingerprints, touch only the sides, no stacking, no forceful shoving, return them in the cases properly.

I replaced my cassette-playing walkman with a portable disc player. Buying CDs back then was a hit or miss: there was no way to listen to its contents before hand. I was stuck with the 11 so-so songs and one awesome song , which was the only reason for buying the disc in the first place.

After that, the pace with which technology changed for music storage and sharing was a blur: Tower Records had come and gone, Napster arrived and disappeared, MP3 came to be replaced by iPods, and then iTunes happened. And of course, there's the ever-present piracy issue.

Talk about the impermanence of things, and the inordinate amount of time, energy, and money I used to exert on these shiny objects!

Do you still buy CDs? Do you remember running your fingers through stacks of CDs at Tower Records during it's heyday? What was it like? Tell me in the comments section!

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