How quaint, a review of Sony's very first CD player

This is great. Original reviews of classic gadgets and computers are fun because you can marvel at the things that were new and mysterious then, but beyond commonplace now. In this review of Sony’s CDP-101, it is noted that there are many buttons, but no knobs. How things have changed, and now we value knobs as high-end and disparage buttons as peasant interfaces.

This one is lower and wider, has a horizontal drawer that slides out to accept the disc, and has much more flexibility of control. Audiophiles will however be dismayed to note that there is nothing on it to adjust; there isn’t even a knob to diddle. But there are plenty of buttons.

After the unit is turned on, a touch of a button opens the loading drawer. The disc goes in label-side up, playing-side down. To close the drawer, you can push the same button again or simply select a band for playing.

They also remind you of how far we’ve come. The digital encoding of music may have lost something in the early days (some would argue has never been recovered), but the medium made possible a perfect replicability and precision that some would say vinyl lacks.

The most immediately noticeable characteristics of the CD sound are its awesome lack of background noise and its almost unbelievable freedom from strain during the loudest passages. After a while one starts to notice other things. For example, the low end seems to have no bottom limit. In fact I am willing to bet I was hearing stuff at the extreme bottom that the record producers hadn’t heard, because some of it was soft but obviously extraneous infrasonic noise—occasional thuds that were totally unrelated to the music.

I mean, when was the last time you thought, “Ahh, what a refreshing lack of background noise!”

Definitely an interesting read for anyone interested in the history of technology.

[via Retro Thing]