The CD turns 30: Time is ticking as the compact disc eyes obsolescence

By on October 9, 2012, 12:00 PM

The compact disc, or simply the CD as its most commonly referred to these days, turned 30 years old on October 1, 2012. This staple of my childhood provided countless hours of entertainment and functionality through music, video games, software installation and as a storage medium. It wasn't until the late '80s – early ‘90s that this technology went mainstream but once it did, it was an instant success.

In the music industry, CDs had a number of advantages over older technology like LPs. They were much smaller at only five inches across and features like instant track skip and larger capacity meant more music could be included on a single disc. There was no need to flip a disc and compared to the LP, CDs were much more durable. The industry would argue that compact discs sounded better than LPs although some audiophiles would disagree with that statement.

Auto manufacturers began installing CD players and CD changers in vehicles in the late ‘80s while portable "Walkman" style devices meant you could take music with you on the go without having to create a cassette mix tape.

Personal computers were still largely a luxury item in the early to mid ‘90s when most new models began shipping with a CD-ROM. These multimedia PCs were an instant success as they powered games like The 7th Guest, Myst and Voyeur that relied heavily on pre-recorded full motion video as a story-telling element.

MP3s and digital media in general have dealt a serious blow to CD technology over the past 10 years. The format is still hanging around at big box retailers even as most software and media is now available online. Notebook computers are now shipping without optical drives as flash storage and external hard drives have taken over the role of backing up data for most. It’s only a matter of time before the trusty CD follows the floppy disk and other formats into the history books.




User Comments: 24

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Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

A cool thing that could have been included in the article would have been how long LPs (tapes, cassettes, VHS) how long their life span was (mainstream) as compared to CD/DVDs and their life span in mainstream, as well as possibly the future of bluray? Just a thought... I still think of blurays as a CD.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

The new age offers nothing better in terms of reliability. The blu-ray discs scratch almost the same. It is no wonder pirating is so popular. Who wants to pay premium for the blu-ray that you wouldn't want to even share with your friends in fear of it getting scratched. This sucks.

We want the type of media that we can keep through many years to justify paying for it. And the current offer is still no good.

Books, for instance, can be passed through generations. A good media storage will be able too, some day in future, hopefully not too far off.

Guest said:

Turned 30 years old on October 1st, 1982? That's not right...

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

LOL...so scratched media is a reason to pirate? Sounds just like another weak excuse to me. I have thousands of music CD's and hundreds of video CD/Blu-Rays and guess what? Not one of them has a scratch on it. Funny how that works if you take 5 seconds to put them back in their case and handle them properly.

Blu-rays are going to be around for a while. Their popularity hasn't even come close to peaking yet and and HD streaming is problematic. I mean those blu-ray movies are between 32-45GB of data. That's not an efficient streaming size.

CD's though? I think they're gone in 5-7 years.

Alvaro Alvaro said:

Turned 30 years old on October 1st, 1982? That's not right...

It's old, didn't you know?

tomkaten tomkaten said:

It may be old, but it's not from 1952. Where did you guys get that info ? Cause it seems a bit off.

tomkaten tomkaten said:

Oh it turns 30 this year, lol.. Yeah, that's more like it, it's just the first phrase in this article that's misleading, the linked one is ok

Littleczr Littleczr said:

I still use CD's. MY 02 car has a stock radio that uses cd's only.

ikesmasher said:

Oh the despair of the death of hifi...

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

I'll keep buy cd's as long as they continue to make them.

howzz1854 said:

The hi fi community is adopting to digital just fine. although some die hard will still swear by their LPs and CDs. but the majority headfi-ers today are all going FLAC and lossless track with bit perfect playback from their PC/MAC and to either solid state, or tube amp of their choice.

avoidz avoidz said:

I still use CDs in my car. It's easy to burn tracks to cheap discs and store them in the glove box. Or you can lend them to a friend. I won't stop using them any time soon.

dennis777 dennis777 said:

So LP are cassette, betamax, vhs? err so whats the meaning of LP?

I remember buying diablo 2 with 3 CD, now it can only be stored in thumb drives.

mailpup mailpup said:

An LP is a vinyl record album. Originally it stood for long play. They've made a minor comeback within a niche market.

I'm still buying music CDs but I'm old fashioned that way. I really don't buy that many though but I did get one today.

avoidz avoidz said:

So LP are cassette, betamax, vhs? err so whats the meaning of LP?

I remember buying diablo 2 with 3 CD, now it can only be stored in thumb drives.

I think trusting data to USB drives is a mistake. CDs are less prone to corruption (if you take care of them and store them properly).

Guest said:

@TomSEA

Great, I'll send you my 4 kids to play with your collection of CDs/DVDs/BluRays and you can count seconds before they get scratched. Hence me making digital copies onto HD arrays.

Music wise, old days, I have been taking a little CD case with 20+ CDs with music, car stereo had only space for 6 CDs. Now, old iPod Classic has space for 160Gb of MP3s, convenient for taking almost all of your music collection of 2000+ CDs or what? Home, I keep FLAC and those being streamed through various media players throughout house.... CDs are boxed and safely stored in the loft.

Personally, of someone offers lossless downloads in FLAC, I'll be buying music online, this way, they are giving us expensive low quality product for more money that the cost of CD. Hence, CD is not dead....yet...

VitalyT VitalyT said:

You mean, it may be time to upgrade from my 8-tracks?

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The CD itself can safely be replaced by DVD, I think. I'd be surprised if there's any CD drive which can't read DVD's.

It's true that digital is supplanting CD's, but unfortunately digital music, like all digital products, has severe regional restrictions. I dread the day CD's will be gone, because it's quite likely I won't be able to buy the music I want.

slamscaper slamscaper said:

The biggest drawback to optical drives is their transfer speed. They are painfully slow compared to other storage solutions. Copying 25GB of data off of a BD-R at 10-15 MB/s is not my idea of a good time.

As of now, I still consider my BD-R drives essential, but I know that Blu-Ray tech will never last as long as DVD has. There are too many other solutions available today. DD and online backups are becoming very popular. Internet connections are getting insanely fast and mass storage devices have dropped in price considerably, making optical technology seem less desirable. Pretty soon you'll be able to download a file off the internet faster than you can copy it over from an optical disc locally.

Let's not forget that Hollywood keeps adding more and more draconian DRM to commercial BD movies, which makes fair use almost impossible. The new Cinavia DRM has now become mandatory on BD players manufactured after Feb 2012. This DRM is very robust and will even detect cam rips of protected content (forget about ripping a copy for your HTPC or tablet). The only way around this DRM is to use a playback device that doesn't recognize the watermark, but virtually all commercial hardware and software does now.

avoidz avoidz said:

Online storage is not recommended as it's very vulnerable to attack and loss. Don't upload your precious family photographs on there thinking they'll be safe. Hard drive prices remain high, and will likely remain so. And don't think digital files will be free from hardcore DRM (some already are poisoned with it).

Guest said:

8- TRACKS...well what the hell, I haven't even figured out what to do with my 8" reel to reel tapes.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

I disagree that bluray will die soon, HD content eats up tons of storage, and with the new true 1080p films (most blurays are upscaled 720p now) it will take up even more.

I have TB's of storage but its not cheap to keep them up, exchange drives and run them all the time, and I like having a physical collection I can see.

Not to mention blu ray disc's hold 50GB and some new discs are holding much more.

I see bluray lasting until 2020 and no less.

Also, online storage still has a LONG, LONG way to go.

Guest said:

"The industry would argue that compact discs sounded better than LPs although some audiophiles would disagree with that statement."

Some audiophiles? Make that most.

"in the late '80s while portable "Walkman" style devices meant you could take music with you on the go without having to create a cassette mix tape."

Umm. No. There was no such thing as a CD burner then, so how would you make a mix disc?

ddg4005 ddg4005 said:

I disagree that bluray will die soon, HD content eats up tons of storage, and with the new true 1080p films (most blurays are upscaled 720p now) it will take up even more.

I have TB's of storage but its not cheap to keep them up, exchange drives and run them all the time, and I like having a physical collection I can see.

Not to mention blu ray disc's hold 50GB and some new discs are holding much more.

I see bluray lasting until 2020 and no less.

Also, online storage still has a LONG, LONG way to go.

Blu-ray discs will last well beyond 2020 in my opinion. There's no substitute for holding something physically in your hands.

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