Friday, August 17, 2007

Happy Birthday CD!

That's right - the "compact disc" or CD celebrates 25 years - a silver anniversary for that silvery disk the world has come to love and burn.

Philips (PHG) and Sony (SNE) were jointly credited for ushering in the age of digital optical storage on that now too-familiar plastic polycarbonate disk. The first ever CDs came out of a German Philips factory August 17, 1982 carrying the latest recording of ABBA's "The Visitor". It took a while for the format to become widely accepted due largely to the sentimental value of them old vinyl forty-fives and LPs (long playing albums) collected over the years by our elderkind.

By the time the 90's generation caught on, boosted by the computer industry's adoption of the CD format, CD use had spread like wildfire worldwide. Not only that - the CD had diversified to store not only music recordings but also, videos, photos and even text and software files.

For the past quarter century, an estimated 200 billion CDs have been sold, pressed, listened to, viewed, burned, labeled as well as scratched, dropped, chipped or otherwise obliterated in one way or another. It has spawned recent variants with DVDs and Blu-ray Discs. It has served the music and film industry, as well as the IT industry and just about every other business and household which have come across the need or want for digital storage. That there is a well-rounded performance by a circle in a square case.

By human age, the CD is now a young adult. However with the blinding-fast turnover of technology we may just be seeing the CDs farewell in the coming decades (maybe even sooner) as new devices and formats have come to challenge its dominance in the realm of digital entertainment and storage. Already, digital downloads and contraptions like the iPod and MP3/MP4 players have captured a major chunk of the music and video industry such that the CD may just become a relic as what it did to the vinyl albums and VHS movies of yesteryears.

So we bid this lowly spinning platter a salute for 25 years well served. 'Til you're next incarnation or demise, enjoy the remainder of your reign while it lasts.

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