I’m sure I had battery powered toys as a kid. Back then, recharging the batteries meant throwing a tantrum until Mom or Dad replaced the dead ones. The first battery powered gadget that sticks in my memory, however, is my cassette tape player & recorder. Do you remember those things? You could fast forward & rewind them “offline” by sticking a pencil in the sprocket & twirling it. For ages!
The biggest problem with this battery powered thing was that the batteries always died when I was recording that hugely important song from the radio. The one I’d waited weeks to catch. Recording was a sloppy business back then. You had to time starting & stopping the recording process to eliminate as much of the DJs chatter as you could. Without clipping too much of the track’s intro & tail off. And yeah, the recording quality sucked. But at least you had a tape of your favourite songs to take along on that beach picnic.
Later, I moved to LPs. Vinyl records. These weren’t battery powered machines, but the quality was much better to record from. My big hang-up with LPs was that you had to pay for 15 or 20 tracks, but I really only wanted 2 or 3 of them. I dreamed that, one day, you’d be able to walk into a record shop & select the tracks you wanted. Stick your money in the slot. And out would pop your very own custom LP, with 20 tracks you really liked. I also dreamed that I would be playing my homemade mixes on my tape player. Powered by batteries that lasted waaaaay longer. Like weeks or months. Not just hours.
Fast forward to today & the ceiling on some of my dreams have been totally & utterly smashed. Way back then, I could not have imagined the convenience & flexibility of today’s streaming music services. There wasn’t even a glimmer of the potential for streaming, not only audio, but moving pictures too! Who could have imagined watching a movie or a concert on a little mainframe computer, like our phones.
The technology leaps that allowed for such amazing capabilities in sound & vision were not matched by equivalent improvements in battery technology.
I’m not saying things haven’t improved but, today, I continue to worry about my battery dying. So much so that half the electrical sockets in my house have power bricks & USB cords. Our cars, bars, airports, trains & planes all sport USB charging ports now. Bearing testament to our mass societal worry about our batteries dying. It’s just overwhelming proof of our collective dissatisfaction with the advances in battery technology, isn’t it?
Do you think I’m going to buy an electric car any time soon!?!