Sunday, August 19, 2007

Happy Birthday CD

I almost missed an important anniversary, something I am using right this very second had its 25th birthday this week.

On August 17, 1982, Royal Philips Electronics manufactured the world's first compact disc at a Philips factory in Germany. For all your trivial people the first CD manufactured was ABBA's "The Vistors". Since then, 200 BILLION have been cranked out all over the world. I have bought my share of that 200 billion for sure. Another trivia piece: the length of recording (then around 75 minutes) and thus the diameter of the disc was standardized to accommodate a recording of Beethoven's 9th Symphony on one disc.

In fact many of the first CDs were classical recordings, benefiting from the longer format, making 2, 3 and 4 LP sets obsolete. The first players were released in Japan in November and the rest of the world in the spring of 1983. The CD soon had the LP, introduced in 1948, on the run. Sales began to drop precipitously for the tried andtrue vinyl disc, soon some new released were issued on CD only. The cassette tape soon followed the LP to the audio grave yard.

CDs were almost perfect. AS their name implied, they were conveniently compact, playable in smaller players so autos thus portable CD players proliferated. They were less prone to scratch or get damaged in handling. The "click, click, click" of a scratched vinyl LP was soon forgotten. I kind of missed the clicks and scratches of LPs. I still can't listen to the Beethoven 9th without hearing the spot where my first recording (I played it to death) had an audible pop. They had better sound and were amenable to the revolution in digital recording. The CD also revolutionized data storage, making floppy and small plastic computer discs obsolete.

Of course the DVD is the cousin of the CD, itself revolutionizing video playback.

I was somewhat of a late comer to the CD revolution. I had umpteen thousand LPs and a wife at the time that would not let me have a new toy. So after my divorce and the fact that many new recordings were not being released on LP I got my first CD player. My first disc? The complete orchestral works of George Gershwin. I still have it, sounds good today.

At the tender age of 25, the CD faces an uncertain future. Digital downloads, Ipods and such are cutting into CD sales. I got on that bandwagon early and confess I love to download music to the computer and ipod, instant gratification is always good. But I still use the CD as not everything is downloadable, and I sometimes like the permanence of the CD as opposed to the digital ownership of a download that could go poof at the touch of a wrong key. I think it will be around for a few more years. Nothing else seems to have developed yet that is better.

Happy BD CD! I still love you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think my first CD was about 1985 and it was either Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy, or a Bruce Springsteen CD. Too bad the CD didn't make it onto the PC platform till much later, but its influence can't be understated. A perfect size, it lends itself to ever larger capacities, from DVD to Blu-Ray, and IBM has already created a terabyte disc, the equivalent of over 1600 CDs on one disc the same size!

I'm just waiting for the Star Trek Holodeck to come along so I can completely tune out of this reality!