Thirty years ago today, a game-changing pair of products were announced: Billy Joel’s 52nd Street on Compact Disc, and the Sony CDP-101, the first device to be able to play it. And the age of the CD was born.
A joint effort of Phillips and Sony, which had both been working independently on different versions of the tech throughout the ’70s, the little 12cm wide cyber-records started making their mark on the world right from the start, particularly by dragging the music industry into the digital age. The CD was only ever intended to be a replacement for traditional records, but in June of 1985, the CD-ROM was born, really cementing the disc’s place in modern day life.
Now, 30 years later, the CD is mostly on its way out. Physical music purchases are being cannibalised by downloading — which itself is being cannibalised by streaming — and plenty of people are actually turning back to vinyl if they want to buy an actual thing. It seems doubtful anyone will be collecting CDs years down the line, but even if no one is interested in your old Vanilla Ice CDs, the form-factor lives on with other optical discs, and for a lot of us, the term “CD” is still synonymous with “album”.
So here’s to you, Compact Disc. Happy 30th birthday. We’ll be seeing you around, if not in stores than at least in a shoebox in the closet, hopefully next to the one with the Disc Doctor. [The Next Web, Wikipedia]