CD celebrates 25th birthday

17 Aug 2007

On this day 25 years ago analogue audio stepped aside as the first digital audio Compact Disc was pressed – it was Abba’s “The Visitors”.

It wasn’t until March 1983 that both CDs and CD players came to the European market. Since then Philips say that a staggering 200 billion CDs have been produced, or to put it another way, if this amount was stacked up it would circle the earth six times.

The CD has seen the introduction of superior data storage technology in the form of the CD-Rom, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-R, DVD RW, Blu-ray DVD and Blu Ray, while many of us don’t even buy our music in hard copy anymore, downloading it in MP3 format online.

The CD however is not yet obsolete and its development actually paved the way for these technological advances in data storage and audio quality.

It began in 1979 when Philips and Sony together established a team of engineers to work on developing a digital audio disk.

Although it was originally decided that a disc with sufficient space to store one hour of audio was an agreeable target, the group extended it to 74 minutes to fit the entire performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

“When Philips teamed up with Sony to develop the CD, our first target was to win over the world for the CD. We did this by collaborating openly to agree on a new standard. For Philips, this open innovation was a new approach – and it paid off,” said Piet Kramer, member of the optical group at Philips that worked on CD technology.

“In the late Seventies and early Eighties, we never imagined that one day the computing and entertainment industries would also opt for the digital CD for storing the growing volume of data for computer programs and movies.”

By Marie Boran