The Compact Disc Is Now 40 Years Old

(Pictured above: A small sample of the massive 98Rocks Album Archive, stored in our secure climate-controlled facility, and maintained by Archive Curator Tom Michaels.)

Here’s something that might surprise you:  The compact disc turns 40 YEARS OLD this year.  They haven’t been around forever, like Tom Michaels, it just seems like it.  Do you still have a collection?  Or are they best used as coasters and Christmas Tree ornaments these days.  In any event, let’s celebrate with  a few facts about CDs . . .

1.  The very first CD was produced at a German factory in August of 1982.  It’s unclear what it was . . . so technically, it’s possible that it was an early recording from David Hasselhoff, but probably not.  The author bought his fist CD Player at Shreveport Refrigeration sometime in ’85.  If my memory is right (it isn’t), I think my first discs were by Genesis and Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd.  The player was a Technics fine-focus single beam (who could tell?) costing around 400 bucks.  Again, memory…

2.  The “first” CD to be released commercially came out in Japan in October of that year, 1982.  It was “52nd Street” by Billy Joel, which wasn’t a new release.  It was originally put out on vinyl in 1978.

3.  It seems random to suddenly be selling “52nd Street” on a shiny disc . . . no matter how much you like “Zanzibar” . . . but that wasn’t actually the case.  There were 50 albums released on CD at once . . . “52nd Street” just gets the special distinction because it had the first catalog number.

4.  The first commercially produced CD player was the Sony CDP-101.  In 1982, it cost about $1,000, although some deluxe players went for more than $1,500.  By the mid ’80s, the average player sold for $300 to $600.

5.  The first CDs cost more than $20 apiece.  By the mid ’80s, they settled into a range of $11 to $15.  Although, that was around $30 in today’s money.

6.  By 1985 . . . three years after the CD’s debut . . . there were about 2,600 CD titles available, which is a lot.  But by comparison, around 50,000 titles were being printed on vinyl at that time. Of those CDs, approximately one-third were classical . . . one-third were pop / rock . . . and one-third were other genres, like jazz and Broadway.  And a year before that, in 1984, ONE-HALF of the available CDs were classical.

7.  CD sales peaked in 2000 . . . and not long after the slide began.  BUT, CD sales were actually UP last year for the first time in almost 20 years.

For the fact-checkers…

(Wikipedia / Reliable Plant / CNN / NY Times / Statista)


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