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Compact Disc

Japanese and Dutch scientists invented the Compact Disc (CD) in 1981. It was able to record sound as microscopic changes in the surface of a plastic disc, with the changes “read” by a laser in a CD player and changed back into sound electronically.

This innovation was the result of advances in digital encoding techniques developed for video recording.

Launched on 1 October 1982 by Philips of the Netherlands and Sony of Japan, the lightweight plastic discs were just 4¾ inches (12cm) in diameter, compared to 12 inches (30 cm) for LP records.


The shiny, un-scratchable pygmy-45 sized digitally encoded discs appealed to the older, richer, more discerning record buyer disenchanted with floppy, scratchable, 12-inch vinyl.

CD customers were interested in purity of sounds, and more importantly, reluctant to have to get up in the middle of a dinner party to turn an album over!

By the late 80s, the digital sound of the CD had buried the LP, transforming the humble 12-inch into car-boot-sale trash (and occasional overpriced collector’s item). On the downside, CDs had smaller, less attractive covers, suffered from a “sterile” sound and were more expensive.

Still, the public went wild for them, but for many, love of vinyl is still a real part of their lives and will continue to be so for as long as needles and turntables are being manufactured.

In 1985, the CD-ROM was developed by Philips/Hitachi and this new media began to be used for storing data generated on a computer. It quickly became the default standard for computer storage media.