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I marvel at another Wild West era… the late 90s. The Internet was just starting to take hold, CDs were clashing with MP3s. Netflix was for DVDs and starting to munch at Blockbuster. One of my brothers coined the phrase “buy, burn, return” for CDs (yes, you could return an open CD for a full refund!).

There was a convergence of a bunch of things:

  • High speed Internet
  • Larger capacity and lighter batteries
  • Universal hardware support (USB came out in 1996)
  • Easier to use interfaces (Windows 95… start me up!)
  • Websites

No one was really sure how new connected devices would work and what format would win. Would it be USB or Firewire? Would you use built in batteries or AAs?

Out of that fray came the iPod and eventually iPhone. The lesson is when you see Wild Wests, know there’ll be something very compelling from them in half a decade or so.

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