An ode to portable CD players — you were ugly in a beautiful way

This is adapted from Plugged In, TNW’s bi-weekly newsletter on gear and gadgets. Subscribe to it here.

Hey, P— Hey, P— Hey, P

Fuck. Let me stand still for a second… Hey, Plugged In is back again, and this time we’re talking about portable CD players. 

Longterm readers will know I’m a man of many “phases” and, currently I’m in what I’d call my Compact Disc Renaissance™. I’d like to talk about this further (and believe me, there’s little more I want to do right now) — but that’d ruin the exciting bit of 𝖈𝖔𝖓𝖙𝖊𝖓𝖙 we’ve got lined up for you in the next edition of Plugged In (SIGN UP HERE)See what I did, Mom? That’s a teaser. This is a professional operation. 

Before that though (AKA today), we have another mission: to bathe in the glory of the portable CD player, AKA the CD Walkman (or Discman).

If you grew up in a certain period, those words will likely cause you to fall to your knees and scream “time is and unforgiving cruel mistress” at that traitor sky. And if you’re aren’t a relic? Well, I would describe using a portable CD player as feeling unreal — an experience I’m sure you’ve had with a bit of tech before. You know, the sort of thing you look at it and say “how?”

For me, the most mesmeric part was being able to change tracks while I was listening to a CD outside. These days, I simply try not to go outside.

Now, I’ve got no desire to endlessly wax lyrical about portable CD players. As fun as nostalgia is, that’s all it is: fun. Sitting here and being like…

…is a waste of my time, your time, and — most important of all — my time again.

Portable CD players were great during their heyday, but they were also always a little shit. Case in point: I had to stand completely still for mine to work. The hardware will forever hold a place in my heart, but let’s be honest: Spotify is far more impressive.

So, in honor of what’s going to be known as the troubling part of Plugged In‘s adolescence when it got weird with CDs, I asked other TNW writers to find pictures of the portable CD players they had back in the day.

And — without further ado — here they all are:

Sony discman