Thursday, October 20, 2022

Forty Years of the CD

Daryl Worthington (via Nick Heer):

On 1 October, 1982, the first album to be released on CD, Billy Joel’s 52nd Street went on sale in Japan, Sony’s CDP-101 CD player hitting the shelves on the same day. Early the following year, they hit Europe and North America as record labels made bigger selections of music available on the format.


“The hi-fi world has become something of a graveyard for bright ideas that came to nothing,” the presenter says, listing quadraphonic records, eight tracks and L-cassettes as music fads that went nowhere. John Atkinson, editor of Hi-Fi News counters that the CD represents “real” change.


If CDs marked a new era, it is perhaps as much in the way they suggest specific ways of interacting with recorded music as in questions of fidelity. As the Towards 2000 coverage noted: “You can select your own sequence in advance, so you can play [the tracks] in any order you want.” The fact CDs can be programmed, and tracks easily skipped, is perhaps their most significant feature when it comes to their legacy. They loosened up the album as a fixed document. You could more seamlessly put one track on constant repeat, skip the interludes you didn’t like, or imagine a hypothetical ‘better order’ for your favourite album.

Steve Knopper (via Hacker News):

Here’s an oral history of the introduction of the CD[…]

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