Stuck in the 80s: I still use CDs.

The compact disc is a stage-5 clinger, refusing to accept its place in history alongside the compact cassette. As consumers go, I’ve become a laggard, hanging on to equipment well past its expiration.

Fast Tube by Casper

I wasn’t always this way. In high school (the 90s) I carried a portable Mindisc player, an Apple Newton, and an IBM Thinkpad, none of which got me laid by the way. Before wireless data was a big deal, I had a Novatel CDPD cellular data modem, good for about 14.4kbps if I was really lucky. Unlimited data service from GoAmerica (through AT&T) back in 2000 was about $65 per month, a high price for limited urban coverage.

Some people get tattoos to assert their edginess. Nerds buy gadgets they don’t need.


At auto shows, DVDs and CDs only recently emerged in place of glossy paper brochures — the auto industry tends to lag when it comes to the adoption of consumer technology (Lexus offered a tape player in the SC430 until 2010). Now, auto manufacturers are handing out thumb drives filled with videos and clever presentations.

Software publishers, among the last to abandon optical media, are transitioning away from DVDs to write-protected USB thumb drives. Apple offers Mac OS X on a flash drive while Windows 7 is available for legal download. Microsoft offers a free utility to install the Windows 7 ISO to a USB drive, no configuration files or FDISKing necessary.

I use CD-RWs for MP3 playback in my Saab convertible (2010 JVC stereo) where leaving an iPod in the car or using my phone for music playback is cumbersome and impractical. The only nuisance is having to erase the disc and re-record it (at low speed to avoid read errors) whenever I update the playlist. 700MB is enough for 6-8 hours of music, plenty for a week of driving.

Now, all-digital head units without CD mechanisms are available for well under $100. Due to the absence of moving parts they promise greater reliability and larger buttons, displays, and knobs. The CD’s last holdout, the automobile, may finally be disappearing.

As for DVDs, if not for the limited selection of streaming movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix, I’d never watch them again.


It seems that optical media, despite its ubiquity and nearly three decades of dominance, is finally fading away.

Do you still use it?

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