It wasn’t long before I had filled the iMac’s whole drive with songs. Since external hard-drives were too expensive, I bought a CD burner. Now I could back up albums to blank CDs, re-importing the music as I needed it. Each 650 MB CD could hold eight to ten albums: soon I had five, then ten, then 20 of these supplementary CD-Rs, carefully catalogued, stuffed with Radiohead B-sides, the Uncle Tupelo back-catalogue and Belle & Sebastian EPs.
This entire article represents so much of my college experience from sophomore year through graduating. I first encountered an mp3 during my freshman year, when my dorm didn’t have ethernet. We had this weird dialup (Rolmphone) setup where we’d basically connect to our dorm room phone and wait to have an opening to use the internet.
3 MB per sound file? Who had the time for that?
Sophomore year, I got ethernet. Everyone had computers with CD-ROM drives. Everyone ripped their music and shared it and that started the whole thing.
By junior year, I was downloading full albums via IRC and living in chat rooms where people would share the latest music. I got exposed to so much music I never otherwise would have heard.
Once I had a job, I more or less stopped downloading music and started paying for it (thanks to Apple for the iPod and iTunes). But I’ve still got something like 35 CDs worth of mp3s downloaded 20 years ago sitting in my closet that I dig out every now and then when I get the urge to hear some music of some obscure band from 1998.