Requiem for a Dream Machine

R.I.P. (circa 2006–2024)

On this page, I would like to commemorate a piece of semi-retro tech: one Sony Dream Machine ICF-CD815.

Whether this unit was specifically manufactured in that year or shortly after is a factoid known only by its original owner from all those years ago. What I do know is it left this Earth too soon.

For some time, I have been looking for a CD player with style and substance; a device to play my collection of CD albums (which has been neglected since I switched to a computer without a disc drive) while having an appealing design to contrast with the drab-black tech I often see. In my search I was introduced to this beauty by a family member who worked at a consignment shop. With a charismatically clunky rounded look and a retrofuturistic flair so characteristic of the mid-2000s, I had stars in my eyes. My collection would finally get some much-needed love. I reveled in the opportunity to test it out.

That is why it pained me to find that the CD player, the main thing it was known for, had stopped working. I popped in Melody A.M. by Röyksopp, an album I recognized the sound of. Nothing but a click and a blink on-and-off from the clock.

The alarm worked, the FM dial played tunes on the radio without a problem. Yet the instant it was set to the CD option, it was if there was no disc inside. Switching to another track did not fix anything.

Initially, I thought there was an issue with my disc. Many of my discs are from European artists. Maybe the tech was region-locked and I inserted an import without realizing. Or so I thought. The fate of the Machine was sealed when I left the lid on the top open for two hours, to get rid of any excess moisture (a suggestion from the manual itself), only to pop in an American Michael Jackson disc and face the same outcome. Researching the player further, another person online opened a help ticket on Sony's help forum, addressing this same technical mishap with their own model. Someone responded by saying that it was caused by a laser that shorted out from a fault in the electrical wiring—something that was too costly to replace considering the Machine's age.

Perhaps owning a working Dream Machine was too good to be true. A problem with many CD players is that the electricity in the player shorts from age and use, causing the lasers to stop working. This seems to be what happened with mine. All that is left of the Dream Machine is a half of its functionality. To anyone else, this Machine is dead, an open candidate for being thrown in the trash or brought to a landfill and scrapped for parts. Strange as it is to say, I have a sort of attachment to it. And so it currently rests on my bookshelf. Its body, a sad but oddly sentimental metallic husk.

Rest in peace, Dream Machine. I barely got to know you. You're cool anyway.