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Picture of William (a.k.a. Bill)

27 September 2013

Today's topic: Digital Revolution Evolution: Chapter 4

"Honey, I shrunk the tunes!" (continued)

Just when you think music can't get any smaller, somewhere in the mid 1990's a newfangled way of reproducing audio bursts onto the scene… enter the mp3. With all due respect to 8 track and audio cassettes which have a place on this particular timeline but are collectively dissimilar to the point of exclusion and therefore perhaps the subject of another blog for another day, the mp3 changed everything, again.

While players like Sony's CD Walkman made it possible for music lovers to bring along their favorite tunes in a very portable package, the mp3 redefined music portability. I'm not here to convince you that mp3 music is 'better' than CD music or that LPs are the only way to listen to music. That's for you to decide. What I'm kicking around is how digital evolution has made portable that which was once anything but portable and how it did so in ways that stagger the mind. For lack of a better or more immediate example, compare the first portable phones to current cell phones. Which would you rather tote around?

Then came the iPod. I still own and daily use my 4 GB 1st generation iPod Nano, released in 2005, which by today's standards is 'old school' but I reckon if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Nano was launched in two colors (black and white) with two available sizes: 2 GB (roughly 500 songs) and 4 GB (1000 songs). Advertising emphasized the Nano's small size: 1.6 inches wide by 3.5 inches high by .27 inches thick.

LP records have been produced in 10 inch and 12 inch sizes, however most are 12 inch and are / were packaged inside a cardboard sleeve or jacket that measures 12.5 inches wide by 12.25 inches high.

Picture of an iPod Nano placed on a double LP record album

By my calculations, it takes 27 iPod Nanos to cover an LP record top to bottom, side to side. Bear with me… I know this isn't scientific but remember you're reading an artist's blog. As a favorite Beatle song begins, "Try to see it my way…" which is to say try and see this the way I see it in order to appreciate the fantastic advances made during digital evolution, advances which continue to and beyond this day.

Apple says a 4 GB iPod Nano holds roughly 1,000 songs. I say that's about right as mine has 617 'songs' on it along with 29 photos and some of my 617 'songs' are audio recordings that aren't music but rather soundtracks of TV programs, speeches, audiobooks, etc., with run times greater than 30 minutes. You can fit a lot of songs in 30 minutes, so 1,000 'songs' on a 4 GB iPod Nano sounds reasonable.

A double LP record album (holding just over 90 minutes of recording time, 46 minutes per disc, 23 minutes per side for an average of 5 songs per side) like those produced by Chicago (the band) back in the day is the same thickness as an iPod Nano or roughly 1/4 inch. Are you with me so far? 1,000 songs fit on a 4 GB Nano, 27 Nanos cover an LP record, top to bottom, side to side, so in the same area or space occupied by a double LP record album, 27 Nanos 'host' 27,000 songs!

Continued soon…

PS: No disrespect intended toward the recording industry or one of my favorite bands, Chicago. Chicago II, depicted above, the band's second album includes pop/rock staples like Make Me Smile, Colour My World and 25 or 6 to 4 in addition to a number of my personal favorites like Movin' In, Poem for the People, In The Country, Wake Up Sunshine, To Be Free, Now More Than Ever, Fancy Colours, It Better End Soon, Where Do We Go From Here? whereas the iPod that's placed on the album includes every song ever recorded by Chicago and more!


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< Digital Revolution Evolution 3
"Honey, I shrunk the tunes!"

Some laugh at how dated the LP record is but were it not for the original 'large' disc could we fully appreciate the CD? Or a computer's hard disk drive? Speaking of records, at around... Read More


Digital Revolution Evolution 5 >
"As we press on to new horizons in our quest to digitize reality in as many ways as we possibly can, I thought it might be amusing if not enlightening to pause momentarily and reflect on where we are in the midst of this digital evolution... Read More


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