Behold, my first personal music player, which I laid down $800 for in 1996. The trusty Sony MZ-R30 Minidisc! Why Minidisc didn’t take over and rule the world is still a mystery to me.
To copy an album, you’d link your MD recorder up your CD player using a cable. I used a digital TOSlink cable I payed $80 for, essentially a short fibre optic cable to carry the digital out signal from the CD to the MD. And just like cassettes of old you’d press play on the CD while pressing record on the MD. Mine was super cool because I didn’t have to go back and add the track breaks later! And I had the fun of using the cool jog wheel to title the album and each of the tracks!
Back then, new music albums cost $25-$30. I figured I could buy blank MDs for about $2.50 each from Japan in bulk (blanks retailed for around $8-10 locally in Perth) and hire music from the old CD Library in Wellington St. I was friendly with the staff there and they’d let me hire 15-20 discs at a time instead of the usual 5. Anyone remember the CD Library? I think they had a branch in Fremantle too.
Looking back it would have been a total mindscrew to know that in 10-15 years Minidisc would be dead, and dedicated MP3 players would largely be a thing of the past as playing music is now an ancillary mobile phone function. But that’s the nature of consumer tech.