The Compact Disc Turns 30 Today!

By | April 8, 2020

On October 1st, 1982, CBS Records released the first commercial music compact disc. The album, Billy Joel’s “52nd Street”, went on sale that day in Japan. Since then, billions have been sold. McDonald’s has nothing on the CD when it comes to sales! The first CD to sell a million copies was “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits, back in 1985.

What was the first CD you owned? Me? I’m not sure. But I do remember my first experience with a CD player: it was at KWKR-FM 99.9 in Garden City, KS. I started working there in November, 1984, doing the 7PM-1AM shift. The station had just traded out for a CD player and compact discs in exchange for promoting a local stereo store. CD platyers were not cheap in those days! Just a basic player (no remote, no multi-disc magazines or carousels) cost around $700. The discs were around $20 each, at a time when vinyl albums sold for about $7 each.

We only had about 15 discs at first. The ones I remember playing were Huey Lewis & the News “Sports”, Meatloaf “Bat out of Hell”, Prince “Purple Rain”, Cyndi Lauper “She’s So Unusual”, Bruce Springsteen “Born in the USA”, and the previously-mentioned Dire Straits “Brothers in Arms.” This was a BIG deal back in those days! Every time we aired a song off of CD, we were required to read a card in the studio that said “that was ___ on digital compact disc. Our discs and player provided by New Concepts Audio, located at 8th & Kansas in Garden City.”

The ironic thing was, once the CD audio made it through our aggressive processing chain and through the FM analog transmitter, you really couldn’t tell the difference between it and a clean vinyl example which had been recorded to cart. But of course, it’s all in the presentation! We were cool because we were the only station in the market to broadcast “digital compact disc audio!”

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