Panasonic Car Audio - The fun of building it, every time you listen!

Every time I get in my car for more than ten minutes or so, I plug in the iPod. There's a cable that goes in the back of my car's radio, and that goes into the bottom of the iPod. I used to use one of those radio transmitters to listen to the iPod, which looked slicker, but sounded like a musical respiratory infection. So, yeah, there's a certain amount of assembly to be done, with my little wire and stuff. Stereo Bluetooth exists, but my iPod doesn't play that game. Maybe my next one will.
I like obsolete hardware, so I'm generally hip to the jive when it comes to clunky old junk that never worked very well. But I had no idea car stereos were ever this clunky until I saw this ad.

Apparently, in 1968, the coolest guy in your town was already onto 8-tracks. Yeah, those things were ridiculous, because you could never be sure what song you'd get when you switched from one of the four parallel "tracks" to the next, and you couldn't rewind, only fast forward. The only clever thing about them was that the tape was an infinite loop. By some pretty serious Escher-warping of spacetime, the thing pulled tape off the inside of the spool for listening, while rolling it back onto the outside of the spool after you'd heard it. Some of the tapes had clear shells, so watching the thing work was pretty impressive.

I knew all that stuff before this morning. But just for one extra point of how-spoiled-are-we power, get this: you had to swap out one of two radio tuners to listen to the radio! Each was the size of an 8-track tape, and there was one for FM and one for AM.
Yes, this was 1968, and most people reading this probably weren't even born yet. Tape was just taking off, so the idea of choosing what you want to listen to in the car was a crazy and freaky idea. Yeah yeah, it was new technology, whatever... you had to put the radio receiver in your dash when you want to listen to the radio!!! Today, an AM-FM radio receiver could fit on a chip small enough to fall into your eyeball without too much discomfort. In '68, cramming a radio into a box smaller than a sandwich was crazy talk. So, if you were the coolest guy in town, you not only had a glove box full of sandwich-albums. You also had two metal sandwiches that were your AM and FM tuners, in case you needed to hear the traffic report. Also, you probably paid half the value of the car itself for the privilege of being an early adopter. Coolness ain't cheap.

Oh wait, where is my head? This was 1968. Cars were a hundred yards long and had glove boxes that could hold a medium sized dog. This tehcnology was perfectly acceptible. Never mind.


CountChadula said...

Ahhh, Philius. You should take a cruise in my '68 Lincoln. Don't worry about safety restraints, my friend; the backseat is the size of two living sofas and my car is solid steel, so nothing on earth can penetrate its outer hull and disrupt your smooooth ride. And if that isn't enough, I've just upgraded from my ultra-hip pneumatic windows and locks to groovy-slick electric conveniences. Oh my...and we'll be cruising all night long listening to the quadraphonic stylings of the Tijuana Brass's last album on only 9 gallons of leaded fuel. Not to fear though, we have another 13 gallons to go. Mexico, here we come!

Phil Are Go! said...

You bought a car? Excellent! Is it here in the city or in another state somewhere? I want a ride in the Rigor Motoris! You did electric window conversions? That sounds serious!

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