Thursday, August 16, 2007

Happy 25th Anniversary, Compact Disc

It was August 17th, 1982. That was the day , twenty-five years ago, that the very first CD was pressed, in the Phillips factory in Germany. And the first CD? ABBA's The Visitors. How frightening.

I can recall a few major milestones in my history with the little plastic coaster. The very first time I heard a CD was in 1986. It was Billy Joel's The Bridge. My friend Matt's dad had gotten a shiny new (and then very expensive) CD player, and Matt invited me over for a demo. He turned the volume up to eleven, popped in the disk, hit play, and it blew me away.

My first CD purchase was The Swing, from INXS. Back then, my sister and I were die hard INXS fans (up until the point where the lead singer knocked himself off while attempting auto-erotic asphyxiation). I was just about to hit college age and, without letting my parents know, I coordinated with my high school music teacher who "knew a guy" that could get me a sweal deal on a pioneer stereo, CD player, and dual tape cassette player with which to outfit my future dorm. It wasn't long before my roommates and I became the de facto party DJ's for our fraternity house, spending our Friday evenings surrounded bu stacks and stacks of jewel cases and cute women (okay, it was CMU...geeky guys) rummaging through them in search of an Ultravox request.

I still have that receiver in my workshop. The CD player, along with the multitude of other CD players I've owned over the years, has since hit the trash bin.

I also have a clear memory of the first DVD I ever saw. It was September of 1992. I just started my first job out of college, as a book buyer for the Childrens' book division of Readers' Digest (no, really). I met the guy in charge of all those Readers' Digest music anthologies, who to this day had the coolest office I've ever seen. All the walls were covered in acoustic carpet, and the back wall was floor-to-ceiling electronics. He also happened to be a beta tester for nearby Phillips Corporation, and showed me this newfangled thing called a DVD. He popped in (what else) Top Gun, and again life changed forever.

It seems a shame...a few years from now the idea of showing a friend your latest CD purchase, folding out the cover art, reading the lyrics...all that will be long ago history. Now in the days of iTunes, music downloads, and P2P, music has become so disposable. Think of all the young toddlers who will never understand the wonders of gravity discovered by rummaging through dad's CD rack.

I still love turning on my 500-disc CD changer, hitting the random button, and letting it spin while I work around the house, catching up on those musical memories and hoping to discover a long lost or perhaps never-noticed track from my original collection. No ABBA in there, though.

No comments: