Posted by: nickgerlich | June 10, 2008

Gadget Porn

My wife came trudging back into the living room, laden with several boxes of cables, wires, plugs, and assorted doodads. My buddy and I were in the middle of wiring the living room for satellite TV, speakers, and all the other things that men deem important. The reigning dorm stereo champ at my undergrad university many years ago, I know full well the value of electronic gear and componentry.

All I needed was some coaxial cable and a couple of jacks. Becky, bless her heart, brought me everything. Including a small box marked “Music Players and Speakers.”

Intrigued, I had to see what rarities inhabited this box. Inside I found a variety of Walkman-type cassette players and plug-in speakers straight from the mid-80s.

And I knew right then I had my blog topic for today.

GadgetsThat Soundesign player even came with…wait for it…an AM/FM radio. Radio is so 1980s. And on the back was one of those spring-loaded belt clips. Never mind that it’s the size of a cinder block (and nearly as heavy). I can only imagine how stylin’ we must have looked back then with this thing attached to our midsection (and no doubt leaning to one side because of it).

That white brick could only play one cassette at a time. The limit was more than likely a 90-minute mix tape of my own making, a total of about 22 songs. In contrast, my iPhone packs 16GB of music/video/pics (about 4000 songs), has a decent camera, syncs with my computer, and is my backup brain. Oh yeah…and it serves as a phone.

Funny thing is, we were all ga-ga in the 80s over such coolness as the Walkman. It was the beginning of the Me Generation, a time and place where we could exit the rest of the world and listen to our own drummer.

And we continue to be fascinated with gadgets today. The goal is to pack more and more into less and less space, all the while driving prices down. Call it Moore’s Law or the Consumer Electronics Theorem (I made this one up), but the result is the same: an ever-widening, ever-improving array of cool things that bestow great social and technological honor on their owners.

I suppose this is just a part of a highly evolved culture. About the only thing we have to complain about is the price of gas, so with all of our other real needs being met, we have plenty of time to be fascinated with gadgets.

As for me, this element of culture is right up my alley. My wife, bless her heart (again), would be happy with cassettes. CD quality was lost on her, and she recently lost the iPod I bought her. So never mind iTunes or going digital.

I just tell her she should be glad my magazines feature electronic models, and not the other kind. Digital mistresses will get you in a lot less trouble.

Dr “Sucker For A New Toy” Gerlich


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