Watch this introduction of the CD from 1982

Originally published at: Watch this introduction of the CD from 1982 | Boing Boing

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Generational video gaming…

Today’s current Microsoft flight sim uses AI to build out the entire planet and also recreates real time weather and air traffic. Additional city detail is added via photogrammetry for many cities around the world, in my home city I recognize the murals on buildings, the statues in the museum’ art garden, and building signage.

The old timers, like myself, on the flight sim message boards like talk about comparisons with where it all started back in the 90s with graphics such as…


It’s not a bad introduction video – the walk through historical music formats was a nice touch. It’s hard to overstate how important it was to uptake that competing manufacturers (hesitantly, suspiciously, grudgingly) collaborated on a single standard. Cassette vs 8-track cartridge was a huge mess prior to that.

Some notable things not included in the video:

  • The first CD players sold for $730 (a bit over $2100 in today’s dollars).

  • They sized the discs to be the same diameter as the diagonal measurement of a cassette tape.

  • The 74 minute capacity was based on the length of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

  • The BeeGees were the first band to actively promote the format.

  • The inclusion of the laser as the read mechanism in a piece of home electronics was a HUGE deal. When they developed the format in the mid-70s, the most advanced lasers available had a lifespan of about 100 hours, so almost every part of the system was bleeding-edge technology when it hit the market.


I love that they are referred to as “scratch- and fingerprint-proof” :laughing:


Well “a” length anyway. I found, out of the first ten I looked at two that length and 8 under 1hr 10 minutes. The shortest at one hour one minute.

Glacially? With all due respect, the pace of technology in the 20th and 21st centuries has been blistering. Before then, human life changed very little for hundreds of years at time.

Every job I’ve had in my career was one that did not exist ten years before I had it. Every job was one that I couldn’t explain to my mother because it involved entire infrastructures that she never needed in her life.

In one generation we went from not having powered flight to walking on the moon. We went from oil lamps to electric appliances in every home. We went from abacuses to supercomputers.

Moore’s Law.

Then there’s the feeling of nostalgia, which some believe is a recent development in human psychology, as a reaction to the blistering pace of change.

I could go on, but you get the picture. When you’re a little older and the world starts to leave you behind despite your best efforts to stay current, you will see better how fast things move. One day you wake up and you feel like a stranger in a strange land. Whole swaths of technology make no sense to you anymore, no matter how smart you are. It happens to us all.


In the video’s first clip of someone loading a CD into a player, the man handling the CD gripped it with his thumb clearly resting well into the data portion of the underside of the disc and it made my eyes bug out a little. Clearly not someone who’d spent much time swearing at skipping and stuttering discs before hunting down a lint-free microfiber cloth to polish out the fingerprints.


The CD displayed by the woman in the last few seconds of the video was just covered with oily fingerprints, not a very appealing look. I doubt it played without skipping on a first generation CD player.

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Unfortunately glaciers are moving a lot faster these days. Just ask a climatologist. :grimacing:


If you want to be specific:

An audio compact disc (CD) holds up to 74 minutes, 33 seconds of sound, just enough for a complete mono recording of Ludwig von Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (‘Alle Menschen werden Brüder’) at probably the slowest pace it has ever been played, during the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1951 and conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler.

[Though the article sadly also suggests that this is a post-hoc explanation of a Sony ploy to gain competitive advantage over Philips]


I wonder about that. The firs CD players were audiophile equipment, not blister-packed commodities sold in the checkout aisle of Fry’s. Some of them had features I never saw on cheaper units, like special buttons for skipping forward/backward through symphony movements. I’m sure the electronics were a lot more complicated and hadn’t been reduced to a 25¢ chip, but getting them right would have been a higher priority, and set makers would have invested in buffering memory, etc, that might have been omitted from cheaper units.

CDs obviously are not immune to rough handling, but they’re a hell of a lot more tolerant than LPs.


i see what you did there doctor who GIF


The first CDs had block error correction but didn’t have any buffering beyond what was required for that calculation. After the Sony Discman and a couple of other portable players hit the market, they noticed the extensive buffering introduced to compensate for skipping and other motion induced errors also corrected jitter and had better sound than the existing home based and professional machines.
CDs are no longer limited to length of playing time because the Philips patents governing adjacent line spacing have expired. Some albums exceed the 74 minute playing time by several minutes.


Well, 2 or 3 generations from 1903 to 1969. Definitely in many people’s lifetimes though.

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I define “generation” as one person’s lifetime but you can take six pedantry points, if you like.


Why more CD releases didn’t take advantage of adding indexes within tracks, I’ll never understand. That functionality was especially valuable for classical recordings where breaks between movements didn’t warrant a track split with the requisite two seconds of no audio in index 1, but still needed to be identifiable and seekable to the listeners.

In the beginning, even the rebadged generic CD player shelf units had the capability to read and use the index points. Eventually, as portable units came to market, they didn’t include it (for simplification, I guess) and then the rest of the market seem to have followed suit (perhaps no one cared once Pop/Rock ran away with the bulk of the $). It didn’t really cost any more to include, as the playback logic chips had the functionality baked in, but it wasn’t broken out to the button level and that was that.

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Mechaturk at work:

The same thing happened with DVD. That standard has a ton of elaborate interactive and graphical features that nobody ever used. A fully standards-compliant DVD player is basically a game console but nobody ever took it much past clicking buttons to watch outtakes or commentary. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, to be honest. :grin:


According to @MikeKStar on the MTG thread, that’s a saeculum.

My 96-year-old grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Ontario, and also happens to be the person who brought a Commodore PET computer home from her school to show me when I visited, walked me through the use of it when I was 5 years old. She also wrote my first commodore BASIC program with me, based on a tutorial in the manual at the time.

She lived long enough to video chat with me down here in the US, and to watch me stream a launch of private rockets from Cape Canaveral.

I can only hope that 1) I can possibly live as long and as full a life as she did, and 2) that the pace of technology can continue at the unbelievable pace she witnessed in her lifetime!