By "being into," I mean that it was a conscious choice among alternative formats. And browsing through the NYT archive for articles about "vinyl," it looks like it became cool during the 2000s. Before then, when it was also a conscious choice, is roughly the mid-to-late 1980s through the '90s.
Today I was reminded of the two main things that turned me on to records in the mid-'90s: selection and price. Nothing romantic.
Not the sound quality — it sounds great, and distinct from CDs, but not a difference that would make me want to convert my CD collection into vinyl. And not the status points — back then, there were no status points to be gained, and even now I would gain little once I revealed what it was that I bought on vinyl (not classic rock, punk, grunge, or indie).
I'm visiting home and stopped by the local thrift store, which had several dozen crates full of records. I hadn't even gone there looking for them, I just figured why not browse around after having scored something that I did come looking for, a vintage afghan (black with gold and cream patterns). Right away they started popping up, and within ten minutes, I had a handful of albums that are difficult to find on CD, let alone for a buck a piece in mint condition. The Bangles, David Bowie, Bonnie Tyler, The Go-Go's, Paul Young, Bryan Adams, and Stacey Q (only a 12" single, but more than I've ever seen on CD).
The only one that I've even seen before on CD ("in the wild") was All Over the Place, the debut power-pop album by the Bangles. I have that on CD, but the hits from the others I only have on compilations or greatest hits: "Blue Jean," "Total Eclipse of the Heart," "Every Time You Go Away," "Two of Hearts"... and I don't think I have "Head Over Heels" or "Summer of '69" on anything. Yet for the price of one crappy download on iTunes — with 95% of the sound compressed out — I got the entire album that each hit song came from.
It may be new wave and synth-pop today, but 15 to 20 years ago I was still bored by contempo music and looking back for something entertaining. As now, it was mostly the '80s, a decent amount from the '70s, and a handful from the '60s. Only more on the avant-garde or experimental side, compared to more well known stuff that I dig now. Starting in college, you should be getting over your adolescent insecurity about needing to prove how obscure and unique your tastes are, and that's the only real change in my vinyl-buying habits — who the groups are, not the larger reasons of selection and price.
Some of that stuff was available on CD back then, but it was expensive. On the CD racks at Tower Records, there were several columns of just Frank Zappa, but they were closer to $20 than $15. If you dropped by any used record store, though, you could find them used and in good condition for about five to ten bucks.
And other material was either not released on CD, was out of print, or was otherwise damn rare to find on CD. Yet I had no problem finding a couple albums and a single by Snakefinger, the guitarist who frequently collaborated with The Residents. But unlike the most famous obscure band in history, Snakefinger was actually a working musician instead of a performance artist, and was a superior songwriter and performer.
As an aside, if you're looking for something unheard-of, but can't stand how weird the typical weird band sounds, check out his stuff from the late '70s and early '80s. He recorded a cover of "The Model" by Kraftwerk that's more uptempo and danceable yet also more haunting than the original. (None of his own music is very dance-y, BTW, in case you're allergic to moving your body.)
Anyway, it struck me as odd that someone would be into vinyl for practical reasons. There really is a lot out there that can be had for cheap if you buy records, without compromising sound quality.
It's not an analog vs. digital thing either. Tapes are analog, but they sound pathetic compared to either records or CDs. Video tapes are the same way. Does that make laser discs the next target for hipster status contests? If so, better hit up your thrift stores soon before they're scavenged by the status-strivers. At the same place today, I found a perfect copy of the director's cut of Blade Runner on laser disc for five bucks. Don't know when I'll be able to actually play it, but...