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CD turns 30, and faces the music

It did to cassettes what the iPod, the USB drive and the computer are collectively doing to it. The compact disc turned 30 years old on Monday, marking a milestone from its birth at the Eindhoven lab of Dutch giant Philips, its magnetic appeal eroded by new storage devices that provide cooler alternatives. The CD is facing the music, but it has come a long way.

tech reviews Updated: Mar 10, 2009 01:42 IST
HT Correspondent

It did to cassettes what the iPod, the USB drive and the computer are collectively doing to it. The compact disc turned 30 years old on Monday, marking a milestone from its birth at the Eindhoven lab of Dutch giant Philips, its magnetic appeal eroded by new storage devices that provide cooler alternatives.

The CD is facing the music, but it has come a long way.

"Compact discs weren’t always impromptu drink coasters,” said gadget-watching Internet site gizmodo.com. “Once, in the not-so-distant past, they played music, contained pictures, and let people play video games…"

Somewhere along the way, Noida-centred Moser Baer turned into the world’s Top 10 league in making raw CDs, but is busy packing Bollywood movies to sell more discs.

Content is king, but the storage devices are like new mistresses that come and go. The German Grundig spool tapes were followed by Japanese dominated cassettes before the Dutch stole back the European thunder in the 1980s.

The first CD hit the market in October 1982 and emerged as a symbol of a cool lifestyle. Some 200 billion (20,000 crore) CDs had been sold worldwide by 2007.

CDs are alive and kicking in MP3 discs available cheap, and in CD-ROM (Read-Only-Memory) drives on computers. But they’ll be remembered for the crystal-clear magic they brought to music in the 80s.