Feb 08 2018

Introducing The Amazing Compact Disc (1982)

Today I present you with this rather simple 1982 clip from the Australian television program “Towards 2000” where they discuss the newest thing in music – the Compact Disc.

Starting off covering a history of non-magnetic music recording mediums; Wax Cylinders, Edison Diamond Discs, Standard 78 RPM records, then finally the microgroove Long-Playing record, the latter being of course what most anyone thinks of when you talk about “vinyl” or just a “record” alongside mention of all-in-one consoles many older people would be familiar with growing up – using the very very English sounding name of “Radiogram!”

This history of disc recording leads up to the introduction of what must have felt like the ultimate, perfect form of music storage and playback all those years ago, the Compact Disc. “Dust proof, scratch proof, digitally recorded, and read by a laser” how could it not sound amazing, right? The claims of it making other formats obsolete almost came true, if it wasn’t for this odd nuance of people born from about the 80’s and later to really take interest in “lost” technology. Still, for its time, it truly was an incredible step up.

I remember when I was younger the claims that CD was scratch proof, but found it odd I was never allowed to use the CD player until I was older – turns out, as we all now know, CD’s aren’t much more damage resistant than records in many situations – still more durable than a record under normal handling, so they were an improvement regardless.

Trying to show the actual audio quality was an issue in this video, as well – using conventional methods couldn’t reproduce the quality the Compact Disc has, and in this video they explain that – instead having to tell you just how the format compares to traditional media of the time.

Something I find funny is at the end, you can see just how even the people doing the show are new to the format – a disc is shown with fingerprints practically all over it!

The strange part is at the end, when host Sonia Humphrey says “The Compact Disc may well rule the roost – at least until someone perfects a method of putting Beethoven’s 9th on a silicon chip. Don’t laugh, I’m assured that that day, in fact, is not too far off…..” It was one of those jaw-drop moments for me, because this is one of those few cases where that’s exactly what happened – by the 2000’s we had really done just that, with flash storage systems capable of holding days worth of music – something I’m sure you, the reader, take advantage of every day with your phone, if you have any music stored on it and not “on the cloud.”

It may not be burned into a ROM chip, but the idea is identical!

Whatever case, enjoy this amazing look back to when some got their first good look at the Compact Disc.

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