Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Hard Format: The Art Of Physical Music Media

Covered in mysterious library gunk.
I am old enough to remember the excitement of bringing home the latest Depeche Mode album on vinyl. Once the disc was spinning, the scent of freshly printed cardboard drew me to the cover art and liner notes. It became a weekly ritual.

In time, I saved/stole/borrowed enough for a cheap CD player and stepped nervously into the digital age. The jewel case opened up a world of typographic possibilities and each new CD came with a booklet crammed full of lyrics, photos and cryptic commentary that almost made up for the ridiculous increase in price.

And then some blithering idiot invented mp3 downloads and spoiled everything.

These days, the act of purchasing music is about as enjoyable as swiping a transit pass. All you get in return for your money is a pathetically dull digital file which magically associates itself with a pixelated image of the virtual cover art. There are no narcissistic liner notes to puzzle over, no drunken snapshots of the band squandering their advance in a seedy Bulgarian strip club, and no lyrics. This last omission is especially galling, since I often have absolutely no frikking clue what half the words are. I blame it all on age and rapidly diminishing mental capacity.

I'm the operator of my... dayglo vinyl?!

I'm not alone (well, about the media bit, anyway). Hard format is a clever new site that celebrates the beauty of physical media. I'll let Colin and Justin explain:

"It seems like everybody’s talking about the end of physical music media. Who knows whether they’re right or not, but Hard Format is a little place we’ve set up to celebrate our love of brilliant music-related design. That means we’re going to focus on records, CDs, cassettes and their like.

However, Hard Format isn’t intended to become a dusty museum devoted exclusively to past glories, though there’ll certainly be some of that, we also want to highlight the brilliant new design work being produced right now. In fact, we’re not setting ourselves up to supply a canon of classic design - this is a place where we record stuff we like, if you want yet another reproduction of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band there are enough ‘Greatest album covers of all time’ books out there already."

There. I've written all I'm going to. I'm off to rummage through the boxes downstairs in search of an attractive jewel case or two. As for you, I suggest a visit to Hard Format. It's only a short click away...

Hard Format: Reaching for the sublime in music design


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