A History of Modern Portable Music

A lot of people like to listen to music throughout the day, and today, many people do so via their smartphone.  Modern cell phones have lots of storage space, most have the ability to connect headphones of some type, and nearly all of them have built-in software for playing music.

That hasn’t always been the case, however.  Back in the early 1970s, if you wanted portable music, you had to carry around an 8 track or cassette player that likely played music in mono and which probably weighed up to 10 pounds.

sony walkmanBy the end of the decade, advances were already on the market that would allow people to take high quality stereo music with them wherever they went.

Here are a few examples of modern technology and how it has helped fans of portable music:

The Sony Walkman – Named after the “Pressman,” a portable cassette recorder for journalists, Sony’s Walkman modified that player to produce stereo sound and without the recording capability.  Introduced in 1979, the Walkman, which was small enough to be held in one hand, became a huge seller and spawned thousands of imitators.

The Sony Discman – Sony’s successor to the Walkman was the D-50, also known as the Discman, introduced in 1984.  This portable player was capable of playing then then relatively new compact disc.  Compact disc players of any kind were quite expensive at that time, and the Discman cost $350 in 1984, which works out to about $800 today.  Still, it represented the first opportunity to take high-capacity digital audio with you.

sony d-50 discmanBluetooth – This isn’t a playback medium, but a method of transmitting information wirelessly.  Introduced in 1989, Bluetooth technology was created for the purpose of creating wireless headsets, and today, it’s used for that, but it’s also used for a lot more, including wireless speakers, and microphones for cell phones.

The mp3 player.  Compact discs were nice, but cumbersome, and portable players such as he Discman were notoriously battery-hungry.  In 1998, the first players came to market that were capable of playing audio in the mp3 format.   While not as good in sound quality as compact discs, millions of people decided that the mp3 format was good enough, especially since they could (eventually) store thousands of songs in stereo on a device that could fit in your pocket.  Mp3 players were also far friendlier on the wallet than compact disc players, as they had far longer battery life.

Streaming/download music services – Ripping a compact disc to mp3 was annoying and expensive, as you had to buy the CD first and then spend time extracting the music in a format that your mp3 player could play.  Streaming services, which allowed you to either listen to music or download it for your own use, came in 2001, and eventually led to iTunes, the world’s largest purveyor of digital music.

The smartphone as we know it came along in 2007 in the form of the Apple iPhone, and today there are many successors, including those that run the competing Android operating system.  Today’s smartphones offer the ability to surf the Internet, make phone calls, send text or email messages and the ability to listen to music.

It sure beats carrying around a ten pound 8 track player.

Can Blockchain Technology Make Digital Art “Real?”

People like artwork, and people enjoy collecting it.  So much so, in fact, that people will pay a lot of money for original art.

That’s fine; a lot of painters and sculptors earn their living that way, and they are grateful.

Artists who work in other media also get paid for their work, but those who work in digital media tend to suffer for it in that they tend to earn substantially less money for their artwork than do artists who work in “tangible” media, such as oil or clay.

dada blockchain artThe reason for this makes sense; digital art can be easily reproduced, and a copy of a digital image is literally indistinguishable from the original work.

That makes it hard for an artist to sell a digital image for the same price that an artist might receive for a painting, as the marketplace and collectors tend to regard digital art as somewhat less authentic than “real” tangible art.

That may change, as a New York collaborative platform for artists called DADA.nyc is attempting to improve that situation by employing blockchain technology to the artwork sold through their platform.

Blockchain technology is the technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and it allows transactions to be uniquely identified, making it impossible to copy the currency.  Were it not for this technology, one could easily just duplicate their Bitcoins, which would effectively make them worthless.

dada.nycThe group began their new system by offering a new collection for sale called “Creeps & Weirdos,” an appropriate name, given that the art went on sale on Halloween.

Buyers are only permitted to purchase the art through a cryptocurrency called Ethereum.  By purchasing the art this way, the art will be accompanied by an electronic “token” that is tied to that specific image.  That effectively defines it as the “original” piece of art and will forever distinguish it from any copies that may be made of it at a later time.

DADA hopes that their efforts will spread across the entire art world and that other artists who work in the digital medium will embrace this new technology.   Just as Bitcoin has a ledger that keeps track of all transactions made using the currency, Ethereum will have a similar ledger tied to transactions that involve digital art.

This way, one will always know whether they are buying an original piece of art or a digital copy, which, while it might look just like the original, is nothing but a duplicate.  This should help improve the pricing of digital art, and if the technology becomes popular, it should help increase the value of digital art in general.

This will raise prices for digital art, and, the artists hope, will help them make a bit more money for their work.  While most artists are happy to produce art for art’s sake, they also, like everyone else, have to eat and have bills to pay.

Perhaps the new blockchain technology offered through DADA will help improve the lot of digital artists around the globe.

You can visit the DADA Website to learn more about their digital art.

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