For as long as I remember, I have loved and have been fascinated by Optical Disc Drives. There’s something about the spinning disc, the red laser and the up/down pulsating & sideways shifting of the lens that I love.
Below is my story with Optical Disc Drives.
Audio/Video CD Era
My first Optical Disc Drive was a Sony Portable CD player like this.
It read Audio CDs at a measly 1X speed and had no error correction cache. This meant if I shook the player too hard, the audio skipped. Still, coming from a cassette walkman, the audio quality was mind blowing. There was also something calming and therapeutic looking at the spinning disc through the little window while pristine sound entered my ears through the earphones. One of my first audio CDs was Disney’s Modern Classics which I bought from Jwala Heri market.
It was amazing to watch the CD changer tray come out and the system change the CDs from the top translucent window. You could also copy CDs to cassettes to play in the car later. I remember watching all the Rocky movies on it without having to switch from Disc 1 to Disc 2 manually.
I remember switching to an AIWA portable CD player when I went off to college. Compared to the Sony, it read discs at a blazing 3X speed and had an error correction cache. This meant that shakes were not a problem anymore.
I would quite often listen to CDs with the top door open, overriding the detection switch with some rolled up paper. It was fascinating to see the CD spin at high speed, the player cache the audio and then the spinning stop. All the while the audio continued to play. I would also stop the spinning CD on purpose using my finger to test the caching.
When I got my first computer, it came with a Samsung 48x CD drive.
The first CD I put into this was the shitty soundtrack of this shitty movie (I don’t remember why). It was fascinating to see the green LED on front flash as the CD was being read. I wanted to copy the tracks to my hard drive, so I went into explorer, copied the (1 byte) .cda files to my desktop and was amazed that it was all done within a second. Later I found out this wasn’t the correct way to copy audio CDs and you actually had to “rip” them.
During this time I also found out that there was a second “audio” cable from the CD players to the sound card. Although you could bypass this using software which played Audio CDs digitally. I also got into a habit of disposing off old CDs by throwing them at the ceiling fan and watching them shatter into hundreds of pieces.
All my friends had the fancy Creative CD drive, though. This drive was notorious for having a very high failure rate. When my Samsung drive died, my father had it replaced with the “AudioExcel” version of the drive which was more reliable. It came with many buttons on the front and a remote control. Especially fun was the “Turbo” button which toggled the drive between 36X and 52X speeds.
Eventually, I moved on to Combo drives (DVD reader and CD writer), DVD writers and then the cloud/streaming era but my fascination for Optical Disc Drives never faded.
I still have an external HP DVD writer but nothing to plug it into.