Tech Talk Tuesday: Standing the Test of Time

Updated: Tuesday, April 8 2014, 11:11 AM MDT
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By Lonnie Valencia

Technology as we know it has grown into almost an art form. The way new technology is integrating form and function has risen to a degree never before seen until now.  This coming of age didn't happen without some ugly skeletons in the closet.  For example, look back at the gaming system Atari 2600.  You know....the one with the hard to use joystick and only one button to push.  The console itself is handicapped by the brown and black decor, the toggle switches, and housed what some call the worst games ever made... E.T.  I'm not hating on Atari.  I have fond memories playing Space Invaders but even the hardcore collector has to admit it's not a pretty sight.  What I'm getting at is technology didn't start off like some other cult classics, such as cars.  You still can go back and appreciate an old Chevy Corvette or enjoy the heritage of the Ford Mustang.  You really can't do that with Sony's Walkman or look back at the beauty of a VHS tape.  No, sorry.  There is no reminiscing about how you loved being forced to flip the laserdisc half way through a movie.

Even though technology has BetaMax in the ranks of skeletons in the closet, there is one piece of technology that has yet to bite the dust.  It's heritage started back in 1948.  It has had its fair share of ups and downs.  It's seen the glory days come and go and come again.  Some people swear by it.  It's been replaced too many times to count and yet it is still on the shelves ready to be sold.  What am I talking about?  Vinyl!  That's right! If you still have your turntable you're a lot cooler then I.  What can I say?  Vinyl was here before I was born, and I have a hunch it will be here when I'm gone.  For those that grew up with it, they can remember days where bumping the DJ was a sin and a good album consisted of more than just one good song.  

Like any technology vinyl hit its hay day in the late 60's and lasted through the 70's.  It wasn't long until cassette tape came along and stole the spotlight.  Portability became a priority as car manufacturers adopted cassette players.  From there the story continues on and on as newer technology took over.  Cassette tape fell to CDs.  CDs fell to the iPod.  Now music comes in a file or lives in a white fluffy cloud.  Still we as people look back at what vinyl did right and try to incorporate it with the new formats. Where do you think cover art came from? It's not new. It came from the huge album covers that draped records.

The thing that blows my mind is that people today still swear by the sound that vinyl makes.  Some say music sounds better coming from a needle scrapping along the surface of a record, and the vibration that it makes somehow sounds better then a purely digitally tuned audio file.  Spec wise, a digital file wins over vinyl any day of the week.  That said, even I hear a difference and I can't stand anything vintage.  I have to admit that there is something about it that I can't put my finger on or explain, but I can understand why vinyl will not go quietly into the night.  Whether it's nostalgia or true audio goodness you can still find new, used, and rare albums online or at All that Music.

If you're looking to get into vinyl for the first time you're looking at a good chunk of money to get into this old tech.  A good turntable- not a cheap plastic one- is going to run you around $300.  Vinyl albums come in all prices and you can get a new album for around $20.  I found Bob Dylan in Concert for $15.99 online from Best Buy. Whether you're an audiophile or not, you have to appreciate a technology that has lasted longer than any of its replacements.  So here's to you vinyl.  May you enjoy many years to come.

That raps it up for this tech talk and before I let you go, I wanted to ask for your help.  I've been charged with aiding and abetting the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).  I'm going to be incarcerated later this month and I need your help in the fight against muscle disease.  Click here to donate to this great cause and to my bail.  Any donation helps, big or small.  In fact you could even ask for them to keep me longer depending how much you like these articles.  Either way, there are area kids and adults that could use the help so please help me help them.  As always we would love your feedback/suggestions for this or our next edition, so feel free to send your comments to our resident Tech Guy Lonnie Valencia.

Tech Talk Tuesday: Standing the Test of Time
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