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Happy Birthday: Compact Disc celebrates 25th anniversary on Aug 17, 2007

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Happy Birthday: Compact Disc celebrates 25th anniversary on Aug 17, 2007

Old 08-16-07, 05:59 PM
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Happy Birthday: Compact Disc celebrates 25th anniversary on Aug 17, 2007

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070816/..._anniversary_2

By TOBY STERLING, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 53 minutes ago

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands - It was Aug. 17, 1982, and row upon row of palm-sized plates with a rainbow sheen began rolling off an assembly line near Hanover, Germany.

An engineering marvel at the time, today they are instantly recognizable as Compact Discs, a product that turns 25 years old on Friday ó and whose future is increasingly in doubt in an age of iPods and digital downloads.

Those first CDs contained Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony and would sound equally sharp if played today, says Holland's Royal Philips Electronics NV, which jointly developed the CD with Sony Corp. of Japan.

The recording industry thrived in the 1990s as music fans replaced their aging cassettes and vinyl LPs with compact discs, eventually making CDs the most popular album format.

The CD still accounts for the majority of the music industry's recording revenues, but its sales have been in a freefall since peaking early this decade, in part due to the rise of online file-sharing, but also as consumers spend more of their leisure dollars on other entertainment purchases, such as DVDs and video games.

As the music labels slash wholesale prices and experiment with extras to revive the now-aging format, it's hard to imagine there was ever a day without CDs.

Yet it had been a risky technical endeavor to attempt to bring digital audio to the masses, said Pieter Kramer, the head of the optical research group at Philips' labs in the Netherlands in the 1970s.

"When we started there was nothing in place," he told The Associated Press at Philips' corporate museum in Eindhoven.

The proposed semiconductor chips needed for CD players were to be the most advanced ever used in a consumer product. And the lasers were still on the drawing board when the companies teamed up in 1979.

In 1980, researchers published what became known as the "Red Book" containing the original CD standards, as well as specifying which patents were held by Philips and which by Sony.

Philips had developed the bulk of the disc and laser technology, while Sony contributed the digital encoding that allowed for smooth, error-free playback. Philips still licenses out the Red Book and its later incarnations, notably for the CD-ROM for storing computer software and other data.

The CD's design drew inspiration from vinyl records: Like the grooves on a record, CDs are engraved with a spiral of tiny pits that are scanned by a laser ó the equivalent of a record player's needle. The reflected light is encoded into millions of 0s and 1s: a digital file.

Because the pits are covered with plastic and the laser's light doesn't wear them down, the CD never loses sound quality.

Legends abound about how the size of the CD was chosen: Some said it matched a Dutch beer coaster; others believe a famous conductor or Sony executive wanted it just long enough for Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Kramer said the decision evolved from "long conversations around the table" about which play length made the most sense.


The jump into mass production in Germany was a milestone for the CD, and by 1982 the companies announced their product was ready for market. Both began selling players that fall, though the machines only hit U.S. markets the following spring.

Sony sold the first player in Japan on Oct. 1, with the CBS label supplying Billy Joel's "52nd Street" as its first album.

The CD was a massive hit. Sony sold more players, especially once its "Discman" series was introduced in 1984. But Philips benefited from CD sales, too, thanks to its ownership of Polygram, now part of Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group.

The CD player helped Philips maintain its position as Europe's largest maker of consumer electronics until it was eclipsed by Nokia Corp. in the late 1990s. Licensing royalties sustained the company through bad times.

"The CD was in itself an easy product to market," said Philips' current marketing chief for consumer electronics, Lucas Covers. It wasn't just the sound quality ó discs looked like jewelry in comparison to LPs.

By 1986, CD players were outselling record players, and by 1988 CDs outsold records.

"It was a massive turnaround for the whole market," Covers said.

Now, the CD may be seeing the end of its days.

CD sales have fallen sharply to 553 million sold in the United States last year, a 22 percent drop from its 2001 peak of 712 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Napster and later Kazaa and BitTorrent allowed music fans to easily share songs over the Internet, often illegally. More recently, Apple Inc. and other companies began selling legal music downloads, turning the MP3 and other digital audio formats into the medium of choice for many owners of Apple's iPods and other digital players.

"The MP3 and all the little things that the boys and girls have in their pockets ... can replace it, absolutely," said Kramer, the retired engineer.

CDs won't disappear overnight, but its years may be numbered.

Record labels seeking to revive the format have experimented with hybrid CD-DVD combos and packages of traditional CDs with separate DVDs that carry video and multimedia offerings playable on computers.

The efforts have been mixed at best, with some attempts, such as the DualDisc that debuted in 2004, not finding lasting success in the marketplace.

Kramer said it has been satisfying to witness the CD's long run at the top and know he had a small hand in its creation.

"You never know how long a standard will last," he said. "But it was a solid, good standard and still is."

___

Associated Press Business Writer Alex Veiga contributed to this report from Los Angeles.

I remember when I got my first player and cd in 1984 or 85. Over the years, I actually did replace all of my albums that I had at that time.

I really thought that I would play the hell out of those CDz, but looking back at the 400 or so that I bought, I rarely played them. Maybe because my taste in music changed. When I bought albums on vinyl that came out in the 60's & 70's, I usually played the whole album. But when the 80's and 90's came along, I would only listen to certain songs on the albums and not the whole album itself.

Looking back, I probably wouldn't have spent the extra dollars on import CDz because I couldn't wait for the domestic release.

In the last couple of years, I've converted all of my CDz to MP3z and burn those to DVDz. I sold those CDz at a pretty big loss.

Chris
Old 08-16-07, 06:11 PM
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yeah...the cd died somewhere around 19 or 20 years old...(not even old enough to drink!!)
Old 08-16-07, 08:08 PM
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not sure how the CD died... in my mind it hasn't. although music junkies seem to be way into vinyl lately than in the past 10 years.
Old 08-16-07, 09:40 PM
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First CD ever: REM's Monster (that's right...when I turned 14). I still pick up a CD every now and then b/c I'm not completely on board w/ digital downloads when I can have a lossless back-up w/ no extra work on my part.
Old 08-16-07, 10:25 PM
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I think my first player was in '89. First CD was Rhythm Nation by Janet Jackson.

I still don't think the CD is going anywhere. Too many people like something concrete for their dollar.
Old 08-16-07, 10:34 PM
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First player was my main Christmas gift in 1985. I still remember getting Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits, Timepieces by Eric Clapton, and The Dream of the Blue Turtles by Sting among others as my first CD's.
Old 08-16-07, 10:55 PM
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1st CD... RUSH:Power Windows

I traded the vinyl version for the disc and never looked back.
Old 08-16-07, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael Corvin

I still don't think the CD is going anywhere. Too many people like something concrete for their dollar.

< that's me.
Old 08-16-07, 11:25 PM
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I agree that the CD still has some way to go before it dies, but the digital download culture has seriously affected its sales on one hand, and there's also been an undeniable revival of vinyl collecting in the last 5 years which has also accounted for losses.
Old 08-17-07, 02:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael Corvin
I still don't think the CD is going anywhere. Too many people like something concrete for their dollar.
I think that digital downloads have the potential to change the dynamics of the music industry.

I can see popular music going through some changes, with emphasis being put on singles-as-digital downloads. With iTunes and such, the days of albums with one or two good songs and a bunch of filler is numbered.

On the other end of the spectrum, with alt rock and heavy metal, we're seeing a move toward more interesting packaging and looking at the album as more than just a collection of songs. (See, NIN's "Year Zero" and Dimmu Borgir's "In Sorte Diaboli".) Extreme metal has never been a singles genre; I expect other genres of rock music to start adopting this model.
Old 08-17-07, 06:43 AM
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Itís a very bitter 25th birthday for Mr. Compact Disc.

I canít remember the last time I bought a CD. With Mp3 players itís kind of pointless to spend money on a CD that has three songs that are actually good & the rest are throwaway garbage.

Thatís just my opinion though, if you like collecting CDs, like I collect DVDs, all the power too you.
Old 08-17-07, 08:29 AM
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My very first CD: Sinead O'Conner: "The Lion and the Cobra"
Old 08-17-07, 09:36 AM
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I got two cds and a cd player for Christmas one year. My first 2 were Billy Joel's "Kouhept" and Huey Lewis & The News "Hard At Play".

I probably have close to 2,000 cds, and will never give up on the format until it's no longer an option!
Old 08-17-07, 09:40 AM
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my first CD's - 'Cat's and 'Chariots of Fire'
Old 08-17-07, 10:02 AM
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Thanks, I feel old(er) now... Seeing reubs82's response of Monster as the first CD did not help.

My first CDs... The White Album and Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols.
Old 08-17-07, 10:50 AM
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My first CD:

The Beatles - Past Masters: Volume 1.

I was pretty late getting into the cd game since I had a ton of cassettes at the time. Didn't get my first CD player until 1992. It was a Sony Car Discman. Loved it but it would skip like a motherfucker when you hit a bump.
Old 08-17-07, 11:21 AM
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I initially bought 5 CDs around summer '87: Van Halen "1983"; Phil Collins "No Jacket Required"; The Beatles "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"; and a couple Beach Boys albums, "Endless Summer" and "Made in the USA". I bought a few more CDs before I got a CD player for Christmas later that year.

I liked that the CD inserts were square like an LP and retained the original cover art, rather than being cropped for the rectangular-shaped cassette cases. I know I played my Van Halen CD not too long ago, it still rocks like a champ. Thanks compact disc!
Old 08-17-07, 11:28 AM
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Regarding CDz vs digital download.

I think those of us that grew up with CDz, will still buy them, but the younger people who are now getting into buying music are going to buy digital downloads because that's all they know. It was the same with vinyl vs CDz.

But I think the death knell of CDz is going to take a lot longer than the death knell for vinyl. And was stated above, vinyl has made a comeback in recent years. And as a DJ, vinyl will always be a valid option for me. I still have about 1,000 12" Dance records in my possession.

Oh and the first CD I bought was The Alan Parsons Project 'I Robot'. It really sounded great on my stereo at the time.

Chris
Old 08-17-07, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by wishbon3
I initially bought 5 CDs around summer '87: Van Halen "1983"; Phil Collins "No Jacket Required"; The Beatles "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"; and a couple Beach Boys albums, "Endless Summer" and "Made in the USA". I bought a few more CDs before I got a CD player for Christmas later that year.

I liked that the CD inserts were square like an LP and retained the original cover art, rather than being cropped for the rectangular-shaped cassette cases. I know I played my Van Halen CD not too long ago, it still rocks like a champ. Thanks compact disc!
How the hell did you get it one full year before the rest of us?

Chris
Old 08-17-07, 12:13 PM
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First cd I saw and heard: a James Bond comp in about 1983 on my friend's father's mega-buck stereo. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I remember the instantaneous track access as being particularly cool.

First CD bought was I think The Police- Synchronicity in 1984, which I already had on tape at the time.

First cd player: a Sony Discman D-9. I saved up for an expensive D-100 ( http://www.walkmancentral.com/products/d-100 ) soon thereafter. The D-100 still looks and sounds great. This was back when Sony was the undisputed king of quality and industrial design. The only problem was that it would skip if a fly landed on it...
Old 08-17-07, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Giles
my first CD's - 'Cat's and 'Chariots of Fire'

Chuckle!

Mine was Malcolm McLaren - Waltz Darling.

Had that before I had CD Player!

2nd was Tears For Fears - Seeds of Love.
Old 08-17-07, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I remember the instantaneous track access as being particularly cool.
i think that's what excited me so much too! now i didn't have to stop and start dual cassette players to make a mix, i merely had to touch a button or two!
Old 08-17-07, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mrpayroll
How the hell did you get it one full year before the rest of us?

Chris
I initially bought 5 CDs around summer '87...
1983 purchased in 1987, I was five years late to the party.
Old 08-17-07, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
First cd I saw and heard: a James Bond comp in about 1983 on my friend's father's mega-buck stereo. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I remember the instantaneous track access as being particularly cool.

First CD bought was I think The Police- Synchronicity in 1984, which I already had on tape at the time.

First cd player: a Sony Discman D-9. I saved up for an expensive D-100 ( http://www.walkmancentral.com/products/d-100 ) soon thereafter. The D-100 still looks and sounds great. This was back when Sony was the undisputed king of quality and industrial design. The only problem was that it would skip if a fly landed on it...
Nice site...
I had the D-50 (The very first portable CD player...I still have it and it works)

http://www.walkmancentral.com/products/d-50

Last edited by Chrisedge; 08-17-07 at 03:36 PM.
Old 08-17-07, 03:37 PM
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I don't think CD's will ever officially go the way of 8-track and cassettes. While a lot of consumers prefer iPod's and the sort, I do think there is enough of an audience out there who still prefers a tangible product for their money that there will always be an audience for CD's. One pro of CD's that MP3's can't offer, besides sound quality, is the fact that once you get bored with a CD, or you decide you don't like it, there is always Ebay or used music shops where you can at least recoup a few bucks, whereas with the iTunes, you're pretty much screwed..... I think this is a reason why a lot of people still illegally download. Not a condoning of it, but an explanation, people feel if there's no resale value, there's no reason to pay for it in the first place.

I think CD's will be here to stay because iPod's will never truly replace the feeling of going into a store and taking the CD home and unwrapping it and putting it in your player the first time. It cheapens the experience.

I have an iPod and still buy my music on CD's, which I then rip to my iPod. Therefore I can take my music with me wherever I go, but still have a tangible product

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