Friday, 17th August, 2012
Exactly thirty years have passed since the birth of the compact disc (CD), which took place at a Philips factory in Langenhagen, Germany on this day in 1982. Compact Disc technology was based upon Laserdisc technology. However, it was Sony of Japan which first publicly demonstrated an optical digital audio disc in September 1976. Two years later the same company demonstrated a similar disc with a 150-minute playing time and with specifications of 44,056 Hz sampling rate, 16-bit linear resolution and cross-interleaved error correction code; specifications which were similar to those of the actual retail CD introduced in 1982.
The inaugural album was Abba’s ‘The Visitors’ with Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony (itself being a trial CD played by the Berlin Philharmonic and conducted by Herbert von Karajan) which represented the first classical CD recording. However, there were no CD players to play the newly-developed technology on! Customers therefore had to wait until 1 October 1982 when CD players became available in Japan and in the USA. The first CD player was the Sony CDP-101 (with its own remote control). It was the now-humble compact disc which started the digital revolution in audio, PC storage applications, PC Gaming, and also contibuted to the eventual development of DVD and Blu-ray optical discs. Sony and Philips jointly hold the patents on the development of the CD and CD player technology.
The first Bang & Olufsen CD player was the Beogram CD50
released in 1985, a whole three years after CD-technology became available to the buying public. Over the years the compact disc has accounted for about 200 billion album sales worldwide over the years.
The death of the CD can be attributed to digital downlaods over the Internet with, since 2004, CD sales declining by one-third with digital album sales having quintupled.
Of the CD, many believe that compact discs really do sound better in most cases than digital downloads (MP3, WMA, AAC etc) with most MP3s featuring data which is heavily compressed for speedier downloads. Also, MP3 do not come with their own easily-read artwork. It was often the case that bifocals were necessary to to read lyrics and liner notes on CDs, but at least it was something!