Listening to Music Then vs. Now: The Technological Evolution

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Nowadays, practically all mobile phones can play music. And watching videos on our phones is as common as brushing our teeth.  We upgrade our mobile phones and gadgets more frequently than buying new set of underpants.

Indeed, listening to music has come a long way since the 90s.

In the 90s, there were no iPods or smartphones. But that didn’t mean it was less epic.

In fact, if you were a 90s kid, you might consider what we had back then was even more epic.

We had karaokes, cassette tapes, Walkmans, MTV.

We are the last generation that understands the connection between a pencil and a cassette tape.

I hope you can come with me as I visit what it was like listening to music in the 90s and compare those epic moments to how it is now.

Music Source


Tapes –>CD —> MTV —>Limewire —> iTunes —>YouTube

I started my first collection of cassette tapes when I was 11. Some of the first few albums I bought were Hanson, Backstreet Boys, and Aaron Carter (Yes, I used to like Aaron Carter. Sue me! :)). I think each tape cost around P150 back then. I would save money from my baon, and when I had P150, I would go to the record store and buy a new cassette tape.

It was a liberating experience for an eleven-year-old (at least for me).

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I took great care of the tapes I owned. Each album would come with an album cover complete with the lyrics and photos of the artists and bands. I would carefully line the edges of the cover with scotch tape, so it wouldn’t crease and get torn.

After a few years, I’ve stopped buying cassette tapes and started collecting CDs. Luckily, I had access to all sorts of CDs. My Uncle is a DJ and he had a lot of CDs lying around his house. He knew some of my favorite bands and gave their albums to me.

In my early teens, I got hooked on MTV. While most teenage girls spent time learning which lip-gloss or lip stick suits their complexion, I was glued in front of the TV.


 MTV Trivia: Video Killed the Radio Star was the first ever music video played on MTV.


MTV was like the Holy Grail for music enthusiasts and fans decades ago. I spent an embarrassing amount of hours in front of the TV waiting for the videos of my favorite bands to play.

And to even further my embarrassment, I also had a logbook of the date, time, and the title of my favorite videos that played in MTV. 🙂

I’m a big han Hanson fan, so this is one of the videos that I was always looking forward to see on MTV.


In 2004, YouTube was born.

Unlike MTV that showed structured music programs, YouTube has all sorts of videos that are available 24/7. It was a truly revolutionary music experience. By this time, I no longer had a logbook.

I no longer have to wait in front of the TV and hope for my favorite music video to play.

I just need go to YouTube and play my favorite videos over and over again.

Nine years later, I still log a considerable amount of hours watching music videos in YouTube. But this time, along with YouTube, I now have access to different music players (iTunes and Google Play Music are just some of my favorites) and mobile gadgets.


But before diving into the high tech world of iPods and smartphones, let’s take a trip down memory lane first. I’d like to share with you the different music gadgets I’ve owned over the years. I’m sure that you’ve also undergone the same technological evolution when it comes to music players.



Music Players

 Cassette Players —>Walkman —>Discman—>MP3 Player—>iPod —->Smartphone —>Tablet

One of my most precious possessions when I was a teenager was my Hello Kitty cassette. It was a gift from my mom. It was tiny, pink, and super cute!

Although it was small, it produced a surprisingly loud sound. It was also portable, which allowed me to bring it to dance practices during my teenager years. I was a dancer; my friends and I always had some sort of dance practice.

A couple of years after owning my Hello Kitty cassette player, I got my hands on my very own Sony Walkman. As a music junkie, I absolutely loved the idea of being able to play my cassette tape anywhere.

When I was in high school, I had a bad habit of accidentally leaving my keys at home. So, right after school, I sometimes had to sit in front of our gate and wait for my grandparents to come home. I didn’t mind because I had my Walkman with me. I would listen to the same album for hours. I was oblivious as the tricycle drivers and some of our neighbors passed by.

I didn’t care. I was in my own music bubble.


Okay, I know I really didn’t look like this when I was alone and listening to music. But this was how I felt inside my music bubble. 🙂
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A couple of years later, CDs were all the rage and cassette tapes became history. So did the Walkman. My Discman took its place. Listening to CDs was more convenient as it allowed me to forward songs with just a press of the button.

It was also easier to carry CDs. I had this CD case that looked like a Goofy stuffed toy. But once you open it up, it stored up to a dozen CDs. At that time, I felt like the coolest teenager with my Discman, headphones, and CD case.


Not until the birth of MP3 players.


Using MP3 players was another revolutionary experience. Instead of carrying CDs, you just have to copy the songs digitally. Oh what a difference it made!

No more bulky CD cases. No more CD scratches.

I can’t really remember using a remarkable MP3 player. To me, they were all alike.

This all changed, when I got my hands on an iPod. Since then, I’ve become an Apple girl. Owning an iPod touch was what actually got me hooked in mobile gadgets.

Now, I’m no longer using an iPod. But I’m still planning to buy the fifth generation later this year. I’m using a Samsung tablet as my phone and as my music player.


For the past two decades, technology has come along way and has revolutionized our music experience. I’m grateful that I got to experience the epic evolution of music and technology.

And I’m looking forward to what the future holds!

What about you? How has your music experience changed over the years?












Irene Chan

Irene Chan

Irene Chan loves two things: communication and technology. With this tech blog and her role as Head of Communications at Veems, she believes she has the best job in the world. 🙂 Besides those two things, she's also crazy for coffee, dogs, and zombies.Follow her on Veems to get tips and fun updates from her geeky life.
Irene Chan

  • Glad to know that you’ve got awesome collection of cassette tapes. Well i’ve collection few of music tapes but they are no more under my control. Seems like i lost them when i was traveling.

    One thing is todays technology can’t beat cassette tapes as they an awsome feeling while listening to them.

    thanks for memorizing the olden days.

    • Irene Enriquez

      Hi, Sarvesh! Actually, the same thing happened to me. I no longer have my tape collection. 🙁 My grandmother threw mine away when we moved to our new house. But it’s been fun writing this. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂