2/4/10

Norelco Carry Player - The iPod of 1968, or never.

Yes yes, we have it pretty good right now. More music than we really need can fit in our pocket, blah blah blah. Whatever. This is all news to precisely nobody. But it's still fun to read some ad copy trying to hype up a weak product that found a way to be ugly, despite being designed in the sixties. Behold! The NorelcoCarry-Player! The iPod of 1968. Not bloody likely.
First, it's ugly. Lots of things in the sixties were cool looking. In the second half of the decade, designers started to go a little rectangular, which is fine. Almost any style of design can be done with cleverness and efficiency. The Norelco Carry-Player looks as though it was thrown together on someone's lunch hour. They started with a sketch of a suitcase and just scaled it down, somehow making its proportions look awkward in the process. Either go with 45 degree angles or 90 degree angles, but don't mix them. Ug!

This basic kind of cassette recorder sorry, PLAYER can still be found in stores. The shape is just as uninspired and dull. The sound is pretty feeble, too the single speaker inside is capable of a frequency range of 500Hz-5002Hz. You like the Beatles? Get ready to enjoy Lennon singing to you through several wet hankies and the cardboard tube from a roll of gift wrap.

The one real benefit offered by these machines is that they make it easy for dorky little kids to record their own pretend radio shows (not that I would know anything about that), and for easy dictation. This one only plays. Wow. Cassette tape pretty much appeared on the consumer market in 1964, so the Carry-Player had the benefit of four years of improvement by the time this ad ran. I don't think a record function was science fiction. The ad claims it retails for less than thirty dollars, which is $101 in today's money. Oof!

At the time, if you wanted to listen to your own music, something like this was the only game in town. If you were a real audiophile, you had a reel to reel machine in your house, sorry, "pad", and that wasn't portable. You maybe had a cassette player in your car, but that would require you to sit with your car doors open and the volume cranked, and what kind of asshole would do that??? So you ponied up a hundred bucks to carry around the Carry-Player, and maybe a bag of cassettes, so you could listen to Herb Alpert in mono, rocking through a speaker cone that sounded like a dixie cup. I can't believe I'm holding out for a 120 Gb iPhone to hit the market, so it'll be worth my money. I am such a jerk.

Anyway, here's the list of available artists from te bottom of the ad. Click for a readable version and get ready to go "who?". I know most of them, but I'm going to tell you that.

5 comments:

Craig F. said...

The first and last time Vanilla Fudge and Rachmaninoff appeared on the same bill.

Little known fact.

craig f. said...

PS: When I think "high end audio," Norelco is always at the top of the list.

Similarly, my car is a Polaroid.

Phil Are Go! said...

BEh heh heh! Zing! Wish I'd thought of that joke. It's weird how Norelco always made cool looking shavers, all stainless steel and mesh screen. How did they drop the ball so hard on this thing?

Anonymous said...

I just bought one of these at a thrift store in it's original retro box!

KittenShea said...

Let me tell you, I was born in 1981 and I'm familiar with a good portion of those artists myself! I'm not sure if it's because I was raised by my grandmother and introduced to 'good music' at an early age or if I was just cursed by being raised as if I were born two generations before I actually was. The really sad thing is, I had one of these to play with when I was growing up, handed down from older siblings and cousins.

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