In 1992 there was this neato little thing that came out called the Minidisc. Special little players. Special little recordable disks. Everything a technophile might want in a new toy to play with.
Well, I never got one. I can’t say for sure why. Either it was too expensive back then, or something else caught my attention and I needed to have that more. Note that this is during a time when I have to rely on my parents to get me the gadgets I want because I’ve got no income except from babysitting (not even an allowance!) and five bucks an hour doesn’t really add up very quickly.
Let’s cut here to recently. It’s been well over ten years since this magical device was on the shelves of our electronics stores. I am an adult now. I have my own money source. And I no longer need the permission of anybody else to buy the things that I want. Even if they are completely rediculous. An acquaintance of mine informs a group of people on a forum that he’s going to sell or just plain give away a bunch of his old stuff. I note on the list that there’s a minidisc player in there, along with blank discs and a charger.
So I wait like two weeks, stalking the thread, mildly curious as to why nobody’s snatched up that player. It’s only 20 bucks for all of it, I feel I should make that quite clear. It’s not expensive. Oh, yes. It’s a dead technology. Now we’ve got CDs and MP3 players that will hold thousands of hours of music on them, plus videos and whatever the hell else we want to put on them.
The minidisc is – quite bluntly – the retarded cousin of the cd player.
Every once in a while, two things come out. In this case, minidisc and cd. They battle over the populace, each denouncing the other for it’s various faults, and touting it’s own prowess in the music world. But there can only be one. We saw BetaMax go down, we saw LaserDisc flounder and die. It’s not only the truth of history, but also Darwin’s theory of evolution. The fittest one wins. For minidisc? It was the CD. A simple, easy thing that people flocked to, leaving the poor little minidisc in the wakes of it’s glory.
So I finally decide that I’m going to buy this thing. Why the hell not, right? 20 bucks, and it’s something that I used to want really badly. Maybe it’s hearkening back to my younger years. Wanting to remember easier times. Maybe it’s nostalgia. I’m also admittedly lying to myself and saying that I could use it in more “dangerous” or “risky” situations that I don’t want to bring my Zune into. The truth of that that’s held down in the dank depths of my mind is that I likely won’t take it any further than my front door. But shhh. That’s not what’s important.
Cue to two days later. A package comes in the mail. Ho! It is my recent purchase!
A lovely box of deleted disks with a few fresh ones mixed in. The player itself. A Gameboy Color charger that amusingly works for this contraption.
Of course the first thing I do is to search the disks for something on them. One of them does contain some music. It sounds pretty freaking good considering how old this thing is. I figure out how to delete not only individual songs, but also the whole disk. (This was on purpose) I’m pretty amused by the whole thing, and then it comes time to explore the machine more completely.
Ridiculous Point Number One: This thing actually runs on a single regular battery. Oh, I know. This is how it all used to work. You don’t have to tell me. I’m old enough to remember a time before Duracel figured out how to create rechargeable AAs. Back in the stone age where when our tape decks started to run out of juice, everything would start to sound as if it were coming to you from under water. It’s just surprising, that’s all. I don’t think I’ve seen any electronic device with a normal battery case in like five years.
Yes, console controllers do come with them, but there’s that option for the rechargeables, isn’t there? There is. And what do we all do? We go buy the rechargeable pack, because we know in our hearts that using regular batteries is borderline retarded.
Luckily, the thing works if you plug in the A/C adapter. I seriously thought I was plugging it in to recharge a dead cell, not because the thing wasn’t actually holding a BATTERY at all.
Ridiculous Point Number Two: A few minutes of prodding and exploring shows me that there’s no real way to connect this thing to my computer. Everything is on USB these days. And even if it’s not, it’s got some kind of link cable to connect it to your PC and do whatever it is you have to do. But this?
I think I’m missing a cable, maybe. So I send a PM to the seller asking just how on earth I’m supposed to get music onto these blank disks that I’ve got.
Do you know what he tells me? Do you? You have to record the audio onto the discs like you used to do with tapes. Are you all too young to remember that process? You had to play the tape you wanted to record, and hit the record button on the device that you’re recording to. Manually controlling the two items, and making sure that you’ve got it all synced up perfectly, lest there be dead air on your tape. All while, I might add, having to actually listen to the length of the song, because it had to be playing for the second device to record.
So I’m laughing. I’m laughing my ass off. This is so fucking absurd that I can’t help it. I have lived through so many changes in this world, seen so much progress, that I can’t even fathom not just clicking on something and dragging it over to the destination device and have it just instantly be copied there.
Ridiculous Point Number Three: So this is where our determined heroine goes searching over the vast plains of the Interwebnetlands to obtain for herself the magical cord which will connect her computer to her new and slightly creationally deformed device.
Imagine her amazement to discover that she got her minidisc at an astounding price. That these things are still going on Amazon for 50 dollars or more used. USED. That is, out of the box, played with, taken around the world. USED.
Imagine her amazement at the fact that these silly little things are in incredibly high demand, even now! People are still buying and trading these devices like they’re brand new!
Imagine how her mouth hangs agape and her eyes widen to impossible dinner plates as she explores further and further, finding out that somehow, somehow, this product has survived the depths of obscurity and thrives!
No, they’re not making new ones. Nothing is new. Everything is old. And everything is very expensive.
I’m completely dumbfounded here. Before tonight I never would have imagined that this thing still had followers in the world. Actual followers. True believers, if you will. Loyalists. I thought that I wouldn’t find a cord that would work because it’s so dead and gone that it just wouldn’t exist. Now I realize my problem is not that, but finding a frigging cord that I can afford.
As it stands currently, without said cord, my player is rendered a mighty shiny brick, and I suppose I could use the blank disks as pointy Frisbees. But that’s all it’s doing. Not that I mind. The more I discover in this lake of absurdity, the funnier it gets. I have honestly been laughing for hours. Sitting all by myself, looking at this whatnot, laughing. The neighbors might think I’ve gone insane.
Will I ever find a way to make this thing viable for myself? I don’t know. Right now, I’m not worried about it.
I have dived into the pool of the minidisc, and find myself floundering, not because it’s a dead technology, but because it’s a dead technology that’s somehow still alive!
It’s a fucking ZOMBIE TECHNOLOGY.