Happy 25th, Compact Disc!

by Sally J.

Yesterday — August 17, 2007 — was the CD’s 25th birthday.

Who could have predicted that this little piece of plastic would become a common storage medium for digital documents and photographs? (Extra credit question: When was the last time you saw a floppy disk?)

Who imagined back in the 80s that we’d be able to buy cheap blank discs for pennies and burn them at home? Not me, that’s for sure.

Wired has an article about this anniversary. Here’s my favorite blurb, which serves as an excellent reminder that the only constant is change:

By 1988 CDs outsold records. 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.

Netbuzz (via Slashdot) has an article, too. This one is much funnier, and it’s aimed at the youngbloods:

Gather ’round kids cuz Grandpa Buzzblog is gonna tell a story.

Remember how your jaws all dropped the first time you saw HD-TV and realized how much better it was than crappy ol‘ regular TV? Well, your Gramps and his homies had a similar epiphany 25 years ago when the compact disc first emerged as an alternative to records. What’s a record? … Another story for another day, kids, lemme go on here while I still have the wind.

Although they were introduced in 1982, I didn’t purchase my first CD until 1988. I didn’t even have a player at the time, but I found a copy of Richard and Linda Thompson’s Shoot Out the Lights on a clearance rack and couldn’t resist. If I remember correctly, the first commercial music CDs would set you back about 20 bucks. Which was about twice as much as a new LP at the time. I didn’t get a player until the early 90s, when I was in charge of pricing the used CDs at Half Price Books.

That’s right, folks — The Practical Archivist is not an early adopter.

How about you, do you remember your first CD? Leave a comment if you do.

Anonymous October 11, 2007 at 6:13 pm

First CD purchased in 1985 “An Evning with Windham Hill Live.” Didn’t have a player, so had to go over to my friends house to listen.

Superstarchivist August 28, 2007 at 8:44 pm

First CD player – Christmas 1988. I was a senior in high school. The player is part of an all-in-one stereo system that includes a turntable on top. Sweet!

First CD to go with said player was Paul McCartney’s “Give My Regards to Broad Street” soundtrack.

Chris August 19, 2007 at 10:48 pm

Not mine, but the first “household” CD was Tubular Bells. Which IIRC was one of Richard Branson’s early success stories. Two modern phenomena in one hit, there.

Floppy bonus? I have one in my drawer right here. Along with a couple of Zip disks (and good riddance to them, too, they cost $30 each and hold 1/7th of what a CD holds). I’ve got a 5.25 inch floppy drive too, if I ever see another one of those… yeah, I’m obsolescence man. Why do you think I read your blog :)

Nikki-ann August 19, 2007 at 5:15 pm

The first CD I bought was Take That’s Back For Good, so that would be early 1995 (March, I think). I also bought it before buying a CD player a few weeks later.

Anonymous August 18, 2007 at 9:42 pm

Like the Practical Archivist I am not an early adopter either.

I got my first CD player (which I still use!) as a birthday gift at some point in the early 1990s (when I was in my early 20s). Alas, I don’t remember the specific year.

My very first CD was selections from the opera Aida. (Also a gift from my Parents.) I shortly thereafter bought some rather more entertaining CDs.

Previous post:

Next post: