CD 30 years old as downloads become more popular

By andy

The IEEE has just awarded Philips its Milestone Award to mark its role in the development of the compact disc.

The first “Pinkeltje” prototype was created 30 years ago (8th March 1979) with the CD becoming commercially available in 1982.

While CDs might be going out of fashion now, it’s this technology that has underpinned all other optical disc formats, including the latest Blu-ray disc. Over 3.5 billion audio CD players, 3 billion CD-ROM drives and 240 billion discs have been sold since then.

Thirty years on, though, things are definitely changing for the optical disc. Many companies are pushing digital downloads as the way forward, despite the fact that generally the quality still isn’t as high, at least for high definition video. I wonder how many compact discs the iPod/iTunes generation buys now that music is so easily found, bought or streamed online?

I also remember the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme where CDs were first demonstrated. The presenter spread jam all over them, and suggested that even badly scratched discs would still play. Maybe the highest quality discs and players were this hardy, but I remember many a disc that skipped at even the slightest particle-sized hurdle.

How soon did you start buying CDs, and what was the first CD you ever bought? Did you rebel against the digital format, still preferring vinyl? Are you still buying CDs or are you a hardened downloader?

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