One Thing I Like About Steve Is
Some few weeks ago, Steve Jobs wrote a somewhat succinct resignation letter; or more frankly, a letter that said he was stepping down as CEO of Apple. It came as a shock to the employees, who have been an integral part of Jobs’ meteoric rise as much as he had been a part of their molding as effective employees of the company. It also shocked the world.
To think that he lagged behind Bill Gates for a few years or so.
Now, the man responsible for revolutionizing the way of life in the 21st century ceased to be what defined him in the first place.
But fuck, why am I patronizing on this cancer-riddled guy? To tell you the truth I never really liked Steve as much as I liked Alex Lifeson, the goofiest guitarist ever (Paul Gilbert comes at a close second place). What I really wanted to tackle was the mindblowing spontaneity in the way sapient mortals listen to music, and I have to admit, Steve has been a part as integral to redefining music habits as he is in molding his employees’ mindset.
Way before iPod, way before .mp3 format music, way before portable compact disc and portable cassette recorders, people listened to music in gramophones. They bought grooved wax and foil strips, the grooves of which contained the music itself, and wrapped these strips on a laterally rotating cylinder, by which the stylus of the gramophone would read the grooves and process the data contained in the grooves. Music then comes out.
Then the vinyl records came about. They came in different shapes, sizes, and playing speeds, the latter of which was actually defined on how the grooves were drawn over the disc. It enjoyed various reconfigurations in sound quality, speed, and size as the 20th century passed by. Later, though, cassette tapes received a surge in sales, as a cassette was easier to bring along and use. Plus, it had more capacity than even the 33 1/2 rpm 12-inch disc had.
With its recording attributes, the cassette enjoyed an array of products rolled out into the market or its use. Most notable was the portable cassette player, which was quite smaller than the betamax, or the videocassette. It had a speaker on it for people to be able to enjoy music from their cassettes anytime; and a headphone jack helped for when noise was not really appreciated in an area and you, for some weird reason, needed MIsplaced Childhood or The Number of the Beast to concentrate. They also rolled out transistor radio-cassette player mashups for when Madonna on your cassette wasn’t working and you needed an added push from Loretta Lynn and Bjork. It was a trusty music man.
All seemed to be well until CD came along, and that changed the playing field. As the compact disc’s popularity increased, the analog disc slowly faded into darkness, and the CD was subject to storage increase mods. They rolled out the 800 megabyte disc to supplement notable progressive rock albums, which, from four vinyl discs, was being converted to fit two compact discs.
Of course, when you have CD’s, you’re bound to have something that works the same as a portable cassette player, but on CD. So they rolled out the portable disc player, which was basically like a CD player, with the laser and stuff, except that it has the buttons to actually play a CD the way the conventional big CD players did with the CDs.
What’s more interesting was that they also released a CD player that played VIDEO CDs as well. It had jacks for the left channel, the right channel, and the video output much like the conventional bulky CD player had, and it ran on two rechargeable AA batteries much like all portable things do. Imagine that.
Then came the advent of the computing age, and various file formats dawned on the human race. Yes, including music formats. But unlike the vinyl and the CD, the progress of the digital file conversion was rather stealthy. Only when they released digital music players did the surge in popularity occur.
Only when Steve and Apple released iPod did it go full throttle in 6th gear, hitting more than 375 km/h.
Of course, Apple may not have been the primogenitors of portable digital music players, but they were what got the entire portable digital music player business in full gear, with imitations from China sprouting from small-scale companies and being thrown in gizmo shelves alongside the newest cellular radio telephone models.
The rise in digital file patronage due partly to the iPod gave rise to the developments in increasing the storage capacities of the music players, which led to the developments in increasing the storage capacities of normal storage discs. In the compact disc department there was the DVD (before the iPod, I reckon), then the double layer DVD, then Bluray (which apparently does actually nothing to the space, but rather to the quality). In the flash drive department there is the 512 MB, then the 1, the 2, the 4, the 8, the 16, and the (according to Ronnie) goddammit-ly compressed 32 GB flash drive. Not to mention the 1 terabyte hard drive which elevated the digital storage field to new heights.
The music player, yes, the music player had its own improvements as well, including a VIDEO VERSION! In that 80 gigabyte iPod you would be able to watch videos and view photos alongside its main purpose of playing music. And then the touch-screen cellphone integration, equipped with wireless LAN capabilities…
I could go on and on, but it would not cease. I’m sure Apple’s cooking up something with its iPad, trying to increase its storage capacity and battery life while keeping the thin MacBook Air streamlined shape it has had. What’s more, dozens and dozens of companies release their own tablet computer versions.
Some people, however, have some critical opinions on the musical advancements spearheaded by Apple. A notable one is Steve Wilson, who is a solo artist in his own right and is probably best known for having fronted Porcupine Tree. A promo video he had for his solo album had him destroying iPods in a number of peculiar ways. This helped him voice out his opinion of the musical quality being sacrificed for portability. In a way he was true, the motherfuckers who engineered the Beatles albums to play on stereo fucked it up, most notably in the song Yellow Submarine, where in one channel you could hear the instruments, and in the other was Ringo’s sole voice, apart from sound effects. Bulldick.
But joking aside, I still would side on the musical advancements, because admittedly, I, too, have benefited on them. My musical experience had been different now that I play my music on my music phone than when I started to buy CDs to listen to. The space I have now on my flat is wider compared to when I was in my home due to the excessive CDs I had. Of course, I am comparing a 3m x 2.5m space back in what used to be my home to a 1.5m x 1.75m space right here in my flat, and to tell you frankly, there would be no contest as to which one was bigger, giving consideration to the number of CDs in there.
But the world of music considerably changed when the digital music player was invented. Admittedly, so was mine. And I have been grateful to whoever thought of an MP3 Player for opening me up to new musical realms, whether those epiphanies be there, back in my hometown, or right here, in Meteoropolis.