Rumor has it that my generation was the last to make mix tapes. And you know what? I believe it – by the time I graduated high school, my friends and I had moved on to making mix CDs of stuff we downloaded from the internet at places like Napster and Kazaa. I marvelled at the lightning-fast download speeds on my college campus, where you could download a song in only five minutes…while the rest of the campus lay sleeping. Any other time, you could expect to wait at least a half an hour. And that was if you were lucky. It’s hard to imagine routinely waiting that long for a download now.
But back then, it was hard to imagine digital music ever fully supplanting physical copies of songs. For some people, perhaps it still is. Playlists are the new mix tapes. Where CDs were once the height of technology, now they are as antiquated as dinosaurs. And tapes? Well, you might as well have crawled out of a cave. “Tape? What’s a tape?” the kids will say. Don’t even get me started on vinyl.
I stumbled across some old mix tapes I made in high school the other day and have been listening to them in my car during my commute. As a teenager, my living room boasted a stereo system that included a five disc CD changer, a digital AM/FM tuner, and a dual tape deck with auto reverse. Now I think the only CD player I have in my whole house is in my computer.