Tuesday, October 2, 2012

CD is 30 years old

Sony announced the CDP-101, the world's first Compact Disc player, on October 1st, 1982. When the CD came out, it was like something from another planet.

In 1982, no one except computer nerds had computers. It wasn't until the late 1980s that hard drives were seen commonly, and then they were only 10 megabytes, an astounding number. By 1985, computers still only used 5-1/4" floppies, which held only 720 kilobytes if you had the HD ones. Microfloppies, the 3.5" kind with two sides, were crazy stuff when Apple first used them on a computer in 1987. They were small, tough, and held an amazing 1.44 megabytes. Even until about 1992, only engineers had computers at work.

The CD in 1982? It held an unfathomable 650 Megabytes, or as much as 65 hard drives would be able to hold three years in the future! Even in 1985, no one could afford a 10 MB hard drive. I worked in defense in 1985, and we did our calculations on computers with dual 5.25" floppies; no hard drive. That's why hard drives are called the C: drive; the A: and B: drives are your two floppies: one for the program, one for your data.

Anyway, CDs were always laser rocket science. It wasn't until about the year 2000 that anyone could afford a CD burner.

A piece of wood signed by Ohsone was used to show his engineers the size they were to aim for with the D-50.
"We're going to commercialize a CD player of this size," said Ohsone, head of the General Audio Division (of Sony) while showing his staff a piece of wood which was 13.4 cm across and about 4 cm thick. This was about the same size as four CD cases stacked one on top of another. He added, "I don't care how you do it, or whether you decide to put cicadas or grasshoppers in it, but just make this produce sound." Everyone laughed.

From kenrockwell.com