“Without fear of obsolescense” Jamis 20 Feb 2006

22 comments Latest by SPY

My wife found a cache of ancient LP’s today and was going through them, reading the jackets, when she found this gem on one from 1959:

IMPORTANT NOTICE—This is a “New Orthophonic” High Fidelity recording, designed for the phonograph of today or tomorrow. Played on your present machine, it gives you the finest quality of reproduction. Played on a “Stereophonic” machine, it gives even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. You can buy today, without fear of obsolescence in the future.

(The emphasis is mine.) Imagine buying anything making a similar claim today!

22 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Ethan 20 Feb 06

thats pretty funny

Gary R Boodhoo 20 Feb 06

it is amusing, yet at the same time the media could still be played today on a, uh… “stereophonic” turntable. One of my concerns with the various draconian DRM schemes currently being proposed is that they almost certainly guarantee obsolesence, or at least repurchase for different platforms.

Carlo 20 Feb 06

I think the only products that can make that claim are mail-order brides.

Chris Marsden 20 Feb 06

“You can buy right now without fear of obsolescence in the next 45 mins.”

Jack 20 Feb 06

It says “without fear” not “without obsolescence”. ;)

With the obsolescence built-in and widely-publicised, the only thing left to fear is the record company itself.

Dan 20 Feb 06

I had to pause to remember what an “LP” is.

Mike 20 Feb 06

Isn’t that the same claim that Super Audio CDs made? They’re playable on any CD player, but special players can read more audio data.

Jin 20 Feb 06

Aren’t most of the web applications today claim, “You can buy today, without fear of obsolescence in the future.”?

Pete Forde 20 Feb 06

I don’t know Dan.. LP sales have seen a massive boost in the past few years as music fans desire to take home something tangeble that is a little bit more unique.

If you want to support an artist that’s on tour, buy their LP. Usually there’s a lot more money going back to the artist, as they are made by the artist and not usually covered by their contract.

Jorn Mineur 21 Feb 06

Isn’t that what 37signals call “premature optimisation”?

Joshua Kaufman 21 Feb 06

As a builder of web based applications, isn’t 37signals selling with this claim as well? I like knowing that Backpack will be continually updated, therefore I don’t have to worry about it becoming obsolete.

brad 21 Feb 06

Actually when you start thinking about it, there are lots of things you can buy without fear of obsolescence. I’ve had the stapler on my desk since I was 16, which is 30 years now, and it’s kind of amazing that I can still go to any stationery store and buy more staples for it. Chances are good that if I bought a new stapler today, I could expect to be able to continue buying staples that fit it for the rest of my life.

Mechanical pencils are another good example. I have some pencils that I bought around 1979 or 80, and I’ve never had any problem finding new leads for them.

Rick 21 Feb 06

Jamis: Since you own this album, what claim do you have to owning the music in a different format? Should you have to pay for the songs on iTunes?

Rick 21 Feb 06

Jamis: Since you own this album, what claim do you have to owning the music in a different format? Should you have to pay for the songs on iTunes?

Geoff B 21 Feb 06

This post has reminded me that there are different ways to go obsolete… and some are more graceful than others. Very few people cherish their tape cassettes, but original LPs still bring me a lot of joy. I have a lot of my parents’ LPs from the sixties - I’ve framed some of them, and I still play them from time to time. In the end, I prefer digital music - it’s simply much more convenient. But the soul of the music is in the LP. Maybe that’s because LP’s coincided with (perhaps) the greatest era in popular music.

I also appreciate the sentiment behind the “never obsolete” claim, even if it was a bit naive. It shows a deep respect for the customer that doesn’t come naturally to every business. American auto makers actually planned obsolescence for a while - got to keep them buying cars - and if the Japanese hadn’t absolutely routed them in the market, they’d probably still be doing it. And it seems to me these days that music companies are doing everything they can to make sure that people have to re-purchase their music every five years (new format? new laptop? new round of royalties! ).

sb 21 Feb 06

stereophonic recording = stereo, as opposed to the �mono� standard of the day. quadrophonic sound was another format, which was a 4-channel format, as the name suggests. there were also brand names for stereophonic reproduction. one company, i forget which, called their stereo format �spectrasonic� for example. it was just a stereo track, but spectrasonic does sound pretty cool.

these formats have a contemporary equivalent, which is surround sound. you can play a surround sound DVD without a surround system with no problem. but if you have a surround system you get the “extra cool” included on the audio track.

euPhonious Feminine Cybernetics 21 Feb 06

ah geez. the days of turntables, amps, and diamond needles…lol.

i used to watch guests like a hawk…wouldn’t let them NEAR my LPs, unless they could prove to me they knew how to hold them properly!

Dirty Davey 21 Feb 06

Basically this is exactly what the record industry does NOT want to sell you these days. The CD was a massive profit-maker (as everyone re-bought music they already owned) but at the same time was a tactical error (in that consumers with a CD had a good digital copy of the music that could be converted into any future digital format without an additional purchase).

The record companies, in adopting CDs, made two mistaken assumptions: first, that CDs were—like vinyl—a form requiring expensive manufacture (and could thus not be easily copied for re-distribution); and second, that technology would not advance to the point where the 600+ MB data capacity of a music CD could be easily stored on hard drives or otherwise transferred without a physical CD.

Through the 1990s, the goal of the music industry was to come up with some new format that would induce consumers to re-buy music they owned on CD in a new format.

Having realized that is impossible, the industry’s current hope is that some DRM-protected digital “format X” will become standard enough that they can stop selling CDs. The most important feature of the DRM on “format X” will be that when the industry switches to offering “format Y” ten years from now, there will be no way to convert the “format X” music you own to “format Y”—you’ll have to re-purchase.

beto 22 Feb 06

Oh yeah, Columbia records of the 50s/60s used to carry a variation on that line too.

And at least on my case, they were right - unlike all of you iPod-crazy technophiles, I still enjoy spinning LPs on an almost daily basis. I just love them for a number of reasons, none having to do with nostalgia. Then again, I’m an audio nut and have been collecting them for about 15 years, so I just go with my own flow…

(Okay, I have an iPod too, so it’s not like I’m a total luddite.).

SPY 23 Feb 06

Define “obsolescence.” Turntable sales were up sharply last year, as were sales of new vinyl. There’s a huge market in used vinyl, because many, many great recordings have never been released on CD. Oh, yes: and many music lovers feel that well cared-for vinyl played back on good quality equipment sounds better than digital.

So the statement on that record sleeve seems fundamentally true.