Compact disc

The compact disc celebrates its 35th anniversary

Shortly after the birth of the recording industry in the late 19th century, the 10-inch 78rpm record became the standard format and ruled the world for nearly fifty years. Even after vinyl records first appeared in 1948, 78s took at least until 1963 to die.

Despite a close call with death in the late 1990s/early 2000s, LPs and 7’s continue to be with us and will be there to celebrate their 70th anniversary.

Then we have the compact disc, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary. Will we still be talking about CDs in 35 years? Maybe, maybe not. Meanwhile, Dr. Proximo of sister site Geeks and Beats takes a look at these shiny little discs.

The origins of the CD and its associated technology are varied and often disputed. For a more comprehensive review of the matter, I recommend this article on low-end Macbut the general consensus is that today marks the 35th anniversary of the product as we know it today.

The “First” CD

Different recordings can claim the title of “first CD”, depending on your criteria. In 1979, the first attempt at pressing was a recording by Richard Strauss Eine Alpensinfonie. The first public demonstration was a presentation of The Bee Gees’ Lying eyeson BBC TV show The world of tomorrow, in 1981. It was in 1982 that the most important steps were taken. The first commercial CD produced was a collection of Chopin waltzes performed by Claudio Arrau. The first popular music CD was that of ABBA The visitor. And then, on October 1, the first CD player was introduced to the market, along with the first 50 titles, led by Billy Joel’s 52 street. There were 100 full titles available at the end of this year. The first CD player was Sony’s CDP-101, priced at $900 (about $2300 in today’s economy).

The new standard

It’s hard to say objectively when the format was accepted as the new standard, but a major milestone came in February 1985. It was then that RCA Records converted David Bowie’s 15-album catalog to the new format. 1985 was also the year CD-ROM technology came to market. 5 years later, the CD-RW (called CD-Rewritable at the time) attempted to replace the blank tape and the floppy disk. The first CD to sell a million copies was the 1985 classic by Dire Straits Brothers in arms. It doesn’t surprise me at all, I remember seeing it in all the collections I was able to browse, especially among DJs.

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