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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

CD turns 20

Monday, July 14, 2003

Babs Looney, manager of Factory Music USA, sorts CDs.
SIKESTON -- Mark Adams recalled the days before the introduction of the compact disc in the early 1980s.

"Everybody had the 8-track players -- even in their cars," Adams said. "And after that, cassette tapes came along and everybody had those."

Then the compact disc, or CD, came along. A time of big hair, leg warmers and new wave music, 1983 also marked the introduction of the CD to the United States.

"I remember when we used to go to the malls and they had all kinds of different records and cassettes --

and then there were CDs," Adams said. "It turned into a CD trend and today that's pretty much all you can find."

Developed by Sony and Philips, the CD was a revolutionary development which overturned conventional thinking about audio media, according to Sony Music's Web Site.

"You can skip tracks instantly, and there's no fast forwarding," noted On Cue Assistant Manager Jeremy Robinson. "The sound is a lot clearer and the sound quality is a lot better than tapes."

Long gone are the 45s, LPs, and 8-tracks. Even cassette tapes are heading down a path of destruction as well.

Ken C. Pohlmann reports in his book "Compact Disc Handbook, 2nd Edition" in 1983, nearly 30,000 CD players and 800,000 CDs were sold in the U.S. By 1990, almost 30 percent of all U.S. households had CDs, 9.2 million players sold annually in the United States and 288 million CDs were sold in the United States while world sales were close to 1 billion, according to Pohlmann.

B98 radio station program director Rob Stanley said CDs have definitely changed the radio industry.

Stanley, who's been working in radio since 1977, he remembers the first time he tried to play the "strange-looking, silver disc."

"We tried to pay it on the air, but we were unsuccessful," Stanley recalled. "I think somebody tried to pay it on the turntable or something. I think our equipment didn't mesh with the CD."

CDs were not as portable as the cassette tapes, Stanley said. Folks thought it would replace the cassette, but it didn't, he said.

Or did it?

"We sell a lot more CDs than anything else," noted Babs Looney, manager of Factory Music USA at the Sikeston Factory Outlet Mall. "CDs are so much easier to store and are more convenient."

Robinson also said the demand for CDs is much higher than the demand for tapes.

"And now cars come with CD players," Robinson pointed out. "We still receive new releases on cassette tapes, but not as many as the CDs. For every new release we get, about 30 are CDs and two are tapes."

Looney said a lot of the new recordings aren't even available on cassette tapes.

Once considered a pricey luxury, CDs today cost anywhere from $14-$20," Robinson said. "But every place is different. It all depends on where you go."

Over the past 20 years, the CD, unlike its predecessors, has remained steadily popular and has even managed to reinvent itself.

For example, since the origin of the CD, other devices such as CD-ROMs, mini discs and DVDs have been developed. Most recently, Sony and Philips joined forces to create the Super Audio CD (SACD).

According to Sony Music, the SACD represents a revolution in the way digital data is recorded and played back. With the SACD, sound signals are converted using Direct Stream Digital technology, which is a whole new approach to digital recording. Sony Music reports the SACD is expected to become the new source media for the next century.

Who knows where the CD will be in the next 20 years, but no matter what form it takes on in the future, it may be a good idea to have a few in safekeeping.

Just ask Adams, who had many 8-tracks from the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"I'm crying now because I sold the 8-tracks I had," Adams paused, "and they were probably worth some money."

As for Stanley, he prefers to listen to the crackling of his old LPs and 45s.

"I've still got my collection of LPs," Stanley said. "The only thing is I don't have a turntable -- and I can't find one."

Maybe he can find it on CD.