Thursday, January 29, 2009

An Interesting Observation

(This is something that came out of one of those "You kids don't know how good you've got it!" rants, where I was telling someone who was complaining about having to "haul around" a 120GB iPod that, when I was that age, all we had were Sony Walkmans--Walkmen...?--that ran through four AA batteries in two hours, and cassette tapes to listen to, so that you needed a backpack to carry a good assortment of music, not to mention the spare batteries....)



A 4 gigabyte SD card costs anywhere between $6 and $50 these days, depending on its transfer speed and where you buy it, and it holds, roughly, 70 hours worth of music. A "standard" cassette tape held 30 minutes on a side (because, in the days of LPs, that was about all the gouged-in spiral you could fit on a side of a platter) and cost a buck and a half, easy.

So, to store as much music as that SD card would hold would have taken seventy cassettes--a sizable stack--costing over $100. In 1972 dollars. Backpack not included.

Neat.

(Okay, there's one thing you can do with LPs that you can't do with digital media, or cassettes, for that matter, but I've only seen it done once. Monty Python's Flying Circus' Matching Tie and Handkerchief was, to the best of my knowledge, the world's only 3-sided record album. It had two spirals gouged into one side, one "inside" the other, so that depending on where you randomly dropped the needle when you started to play it--do you have the slightest idea what I'm talking about, Best Beloved...?--it would play one "side" or the other... Doesn't seem like that big a loss... And in case you've been wondering, the storage capacity of a standard filiing cabinet runs around 50 megabytes...)

9 comments:

James said...

If they only knew! Way to go Python - a great bit of trivia for the collection.

ajneil said...

Actually there are several multi-groove records. I own a Laurie Anderson LP which has one side with three groves containing three different versions of the same track. Also, according to Snopes: Kate Bush and The Fine Young Cannibals both released 12" singles with a multigroove side for different mixes. You might be right that the Monty Python one is the only 3 sided LP though as technically I guess the Laurie Anderson one would be a four sided LP.

ajneil said...

Incidentally it made it a hellish task making a tape of the record...

hub said...

In France tape cost twice that. Because there was a levy on it for the music industry.

Then I remember my walkman used on two AA batteries. Later models used one.

And there was 90 minutes tapes which allowed basically two LPs on it (or rather CD because I had CD since 1985).

But yeah.

Ironically the Walkman brand is gone. Sony lost it in the digital era. Too bad, the mini-disc was a good start, hadn't the stuck to their proprietary compression and used as disk storage.

AdamW said...

"And in case you've been wondering, the storage capacity of a standard filiing cabinet runs around 50 megabytes..."

Unless, of course, you fill it with SD cards.

:)

iain said...

Another thing you can do is have a truely hidden track. You put a groove underneath the label in the centre.

Lefty said...

Oh, you can certainly do that digitally. You could steganographically embed a track in the low-order bits of a longer piece, for instance...

TRULY HEARTFELT PRODUCTIONS said...

fascinating comments, here :) i stumbld upon this talk as i'm looking for discussion on the Python LP...and i should add that Mr.Bungle 'Disco Volante' was released on vinyl as an LP with a 7" that expanded on the CD/cass versions...and the vinyl had the '3 sides' pressing method to accommodate all the songs and (it could be said) the pretentiousness of the band.

TRULY HEARTFELT PRODUCTIONS said...

not to mention a few geeky metal bands that had bonus songs at the very start of the CD...as in, you would press play, and as track one began you would hold down the 'rewind' button to reverse playback way back to the start of the 'hidden' song. feh.