Compact disc

Random Access Memories: The Compact Disc (1982)


Ah, the CD – famous for its then mind-blowing 650MB capacity and ability to repel honey and stones when shown on TV.

In retrospect, the presenters’ insistence on going after the shiny records with whatever they could get their hands on to prove their tenacity could have been a mistake. It seemed to start a myth that Tomorrow’s World had someone play it covered in jam, and put into people’s minds the idea that a CD would play even if you attacked it from first with random components from the rock garden next door. As we all discovered to our disappointment, none of these things were true.

You sound bitter. Always looking for 8 tracks, vinyls and cassettes

Not at all. The compact disc was a marvel when it hit the mainstream. CD players quickly shrank in size to Sony’s pioneering but monstrous CDP-101, barely thicker than a few jewelry cases, and portable options quickly replaced personal cassette players prone to eating music. rather than playing it. You can instantly skip the tracks you hated, and the recordable CDs will let you create high-speed compilations later, rather than being that boring high-fidelity who spends hours playing around with a tape recorder.

But no one these days would care! Haven’t heard of playlists?

Enough. The CD is truly on borrowed time, as US sales plummet under vinyl – something that last happened in 1986, when a lot of people still thought Phil Collins was cool. Be careful, vinyl cheats by being supported by Record Store Day – there is no equivalent for digital records. Still, retro tech is finally coming for a second time, and so we imagine that in a few decades there will be a confusing revival of hipster CDs – by then, hardly anyone will own anything to play things.