The Quick 10: The Scoop on CDs


It was 31 years ago today that the compact disc was first introduced to the public. It took a few years to get that technology out to the public, but on March 8, 1979, the Philips company held a press conference called "Philips Introduce Compact Disc" to tell the world what was going on. Although CDs seem like they might be headed the way of the 8-Track, they definitely have their place in pop culture history. For old times' sake, break out your favorite disc and give it a listen while you enjoy these facts.

1. The first mass-produced CD manufactured was ABBA's The Visitors. However, the first album to actually be released to the public on CD was Billy Joel's 52nd Street. It came out on October 1, 1982.

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3. The first CD to sell a million copies was Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms, released in 1985.

4. Can you imagine having a collection of Mini Racks? That was just one of the many names considered for the format when it was still in early development stages. Other possibilities included MiniDisc and CompactRack. The developers decided to go with "compact disc" because they figured it would make people think of the success of the compact cassette.

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6. If you could take all of the data a CD holds and place it end-to-end, it would stretch out for more than four miles.

7. David Bowie was the first artist to have his entire catalog converted to the CD format. Although CDs were commercially available since 1982, the Bowie conversion (if you're looking for a band name, feel free to steal that: The Bowie Conversion) didn't take place until 1985.

8. CDs are made up of pits and lands. The data on the discs is stored as little tiny indentations called "pits," and the area between the pits are the "lands." In case you're wondering why you've never seen little holes all over the back of your old Jagged Little Pill or In Utero disc, that's because they're virtually invisible to the naked eye: each pit is about 100 nanometers deep by 500 nanometers wide (one nanometer is a billionth of a meter). Plus, this is all embedded in one of the layers of the CD, and the pits and lands are actually closer to the label side than the back side.

9. The data on a CD starts on the inside and spirals outward.

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My first CD ever was Ace of Base's The Sign. It came with my first CD player "“ they were both presents for my 12th birthday (I think). At the requisite birthday sleepover that night, we accidentally hit the shuffle button without realizing that the shuffle button even existed and were temporarily convinced that a ghost in the house really loved the song "All That She Wants." Do you remember your first CD?