Sony CDP-101: The World's First CD Player

On October 1, 1982, Sony released the first ever CD player in Japan. Seven months later, it finally arrived in the US, complete with a vast library of 16 available albums. Its price? $US1000.

At the time, it was seen as too pricey for the average consumer, but well within the fiscal wheelhouse of audiophiles. Stereophile Magazine loved it's lack of background noise and deep bass. They frowned at the digital compression (it's flat and cold, after all). But ultimately looked past that little problem and called the CD the most exciting thing since the advent of the LP. But what's most entertaining is their description of using the player.

This one is lower and wider, has a horizontal drawer that slides out to accept the disc, and has much more flexibility of control. Audiophiles will however be dismayed to note that there is nothing on it to adjust; there isn't even a knob to diddle. But there are plenty of buttons.

After the unit is turned on, a touch of a button opens the loading drawer. The disc goes in label-side up, playing-side down. To close the drawer, you can push the same button again or simply select a band for playing.

CDs maybe in their twilight years, especially with the rise of streaming music, but the CDP-101s combination of quality, portability and durability made it a legendary device for its time.

Image via Atreyu/Wikipedia

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    I don't think the CD should be counted out just yet, but I fear that the "twilight years" comment may be right. I personally don't listen to CDs anymore, but practically nobody releases music in lossless formats so I still buy them so I can add the FLAC files to my collection.

    Apple is definitely pushing for optical media to die - and I wouldn't care, if only I could buy the lossless audio for the same price (or less) as its CD equivalent.

      lossless audio - so you buy LP's then for the full dynamic range ?

    "...CDs maybe in their twilight years, especially with the rise of streaming music..."

    The sad part is that the peak of sound quality available on a commercially sucessful technology was achieved almost 30 years ago.

    I bought one of these when they first came out for around $820 and can proudly say that at one point I owned every CD available on the market - that didn't last long though.

    The player weighed something like 14kg and lasted for 15 years before it finally died! It had a massive heat sink on the back.

    They are wrong about there not being any knobs, the headphone outlet had a volume adjustment - you can just see it under the power button in the pick above!

    Ah old CDs. Best bird scarers yet invented. Make really beautiful psychadelic mosaic petterns when substituted for mirrors as well. Lousy drink coasters though as they wont absorb spills.

    I was about 20 when they came out. They cost about $1200 I remember. I bought a cd of 1812 overture and went around all the hifi shops in Newcastle to play my disc. I'd tell them that the first shop that I'd buy a player from the first shop that offered me one for under $1000. Its still running strong, with only 1 repair. they don't make them the same nowadays.


      wow thats prett damn impressive that it hasnt broken. Guess it also shows that if you take care of your gear i will last a long time :)

    My dad owned one of those!

    I clearly remember him buying it one saturday morning after listening to some demo CDs on at the store. The store would not carry the actual disks, it was a high end electronics store.

    So, that afternoon we went to a record store to get some. They were not in the aisles, those were -of course- full of vinyls. We were taken to a room in the back of the store, to look at their entire catalog, which was inside a shoe box (may have not been an actual shoe box, memory is hazy, but it was about the size).

    He picked two CDs: Rush's Signals and Saga's Head or Tales. He still has those CDs among the thousands he's collected over the years.

    Good times!

    I also had one of these. I actually bought two or three CDs before I got the player. Can't remember whether it eventually broke or I sold it or gave it away, but it was succeeded by a Nakamichi, then later by a couple of NADs, which both eventually (but prematurely) clapped out!

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