LG GCE-8160B CD-R/RW Drive

LG GCE-8160B - Face

On Monday I posted about my very first CD burner; today I’m going to post my all-time favorite CD burner, the LG GCE-8160B.

I remember buying this burner from a computer show in downtown Oakland. In the previous post, I mentioned sourcing parts from vendors advertising in the old computer magazines MicroTimes and Computer Currents. The other way of sourcing parts back in those days was to go to local computer shows. Before NewEgg and Amazon, this is how I bought computer parts.

Receipt - Front
Bought on September 8, 2001 for $123.

The LG was a retail version, meaning it came with actual packaging and an assortment of manuals and accessories (vs. OEM versions which usually just come with the drive wrapped in a plastic bag). I remember this drive coming with one LG-branded CD-RW and one CD-R. In later years, I used the CD-RW for music CDs in our family car (for some reason, it would only play CD-RWs, not CD-Rs).

So, why is this burner my favorite of all time, and how can a person actually have a favorite CD burner? I suppose one reason is that I probably used this burner the most. I think out of all the optical drives that I’ve ever had, I had this one the longest. Physically, the drive was very solid. While some cheaper drives sound like they they will fall apart when the drive tray closes and the disc spins up, the LG tray closed with a solid thunk. Drive access was relatively hushed compared to the high-pitched whine of cheaper drives (I suppose it’s like the debate over how American, German, and Japanese car doors sound when they close). If I remember correctly, this was the first drive that I had that had buffer underrun protection, which meant no more coasters. At 16x, it burned fast, too. Finally, and cosmetically, the face used a smoother plastic that was less grainy and textured than on some other drives. It featured a simple yet elegant printing of the specs and logos and a nice curvature to the tray door (as opposed to a plain old rectangle).

With the advent of DVD burning as well as the transition to black cases, I finally moved on and installed an NEC DVD burner. The LG had served me well for many years and I didn’t want to toss it, so I relegated it to an older system that I left at home and would use when I visited. Still, I probably never used it to burn a CD again. Later, I consolidated my hardware and finally disposed of this venerable drive. RIP, old friend!

Sony CDU-926S SCSI CD Burner (1997)

Sony CDU926S CD Burner - Face

Today’s museum post is of my first-ever CD burner, bought in the summer of 1997. That summer I started my first summer job, at a company in downtown San Francisco doing temp work. Once I had earned enough money, I used it to buy the burner and the required SCSI card.

The web was still in its infancy back then so the main way computer shops (and there were a lot more of them, especially mom and pop ones) advertised was through free magazines. In the Bay Area, the main two were MicroTimes and Computer Currents. I found a place that sold the burner and card, and called them from the lunch room at work to confirm the price (~$500) and make the order.

Sony CDU926S CD Burner - Rear
I think those red things are the terminators…

It was my first time using a SCSI device and I was a bit nervous about setting up the correct termination and whether the terminators would be included. In the end, everything worked and I burned my first CD.

It was also my first time using a CD caddy. I kept the same caddy for the life of the burner. You can see the crack in the pictures.

CD Caddy - Top
You had to put the CD in the caddy first…

For a little while after, before CD burners became mainstream, I became the main source of custom CDs for my family and friends. I’d charge them $5 for the CD-R and the labor involved in ripping and compiling the CD. Good times.

I’ve mentioned before about keeping my hardware in hopes of someday rebuilding those systems of yesteryear, but sadly, it never happened and I eventually threw out the burner. Of course, I took these photos beforehand.

As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post. 🙂