Stereo is over (if you want it)

I recently gave in and bought a boxed set of albums by The Beatles. After much thought, I bought the mono boxed set. Although modern stereo had been invented by Alan Blumlein in 1931 — including stereo microphones and stereo microgroove vinyl records — in the 1960s it was still a novelty, particularly for pop music which was generally heard via mono AM radio. Until Abbey Road in 1969, all of The Beatles’ albums were recorded and mixed in mono.


The excitement started a week or two ago when I discovered that my ThinkPad laptop’s internal cooling fan had stopped working. As soon as I did something graphically intense for more than a minute or two, the system would overheat and perform an emergency shutdown. Fortunately, I have a backup laptop. Unfortunately, the backup ThinkPad laptop had also developed a fault. The fluorescent backlight for the display was failing. The screen was a curious reddish-purple color, and very dim—unless I turned the brightness up, in which case the backlight stopped working entirely, and everything went black.