Have you ever wondered how CDs were invented? The truth, however, is that the inventor of the compact disc is time and again disputed as it’s argued that the invention of a compact disc was a role played by several people.
However, the most attributed inventor is James Rusell. In 1965, James Rusell was inspired by a revolutionary idea as he made a rough sketch on paper, an ideal music recording system which would replace vinyl records. Rusell’s idea was to come up with a system that could record and replay sounds without requiring physical contacts between parts.
Rusell struggled to attract investors, but with time Sony and a few other companies recognized the potential in Rusell’s idea and purchased licenses of the CD-ROM technology. The support of large corporations further improved the idea to ensure it was ready for market.
It was in 1978 Polygram when a division of Philips suggested polycarbonate as the material to make CDs. There were other decisions made at this time such as the disc diameter (115 mm) and the type of laser to be used. Additionally, it was decided that data on a compact disc would start at the center going spiral outwards to the edge.
In the following year, Europe and Japan hosted prototype CD system demonstrations where Sony agreed on terms to join into collaboration with Philips. The disc diameter was slightly changed from 115 mm to 120mm which allowed for 74 minutes of playback at a sampling rate of 44.1 kHz and a quality of 16-bit audio. The immediate impact on recyclable materials was a boon as CDs took over the market, bumping vinyl and tape off the charts on a weekly basis. The packaging was a boon to many plastics producers, as well as recyclable handlers, including companies like Waste Focus which handle left over materials from the production process.
The CD was first announced 15 years after the invention by Philips on May 17, 1978. The announcement came with the proposed standards that were agreed between Sony and Philips. They made the “Red Book”, containing the technical specifications for all CD-ROM and CD formats. The collaboration between Sony and Philips ended, however, as the two companies had produced products ready for 1982.
CDs are made from a thick polycarbonate plastic(12 mm) weighing around 16 grams. There’s a thin layer of Aluminum that’s applied on the surface so that it appears reflective. It’s then protected by a thin layer of lacquer. Screen printing is the process used to manufacture CDs.
The first CD audio player was released to the market by Sony in October 1982. The CDP-101 surfaced on the market in the same year, and the usage of CDs across Japan and Europe became widespread. At the time, Compact discs were ridiculously expensive with each going for $30. They were manufactured by only two facilities in the world which made the process tedious. Fortunately, there were six factories to do the job, and the price dropped significantly.
In the mid-1980s, portable CD players were introduced, but it’s until 1990s when they became popular. Other manufacturers followed Sony footsteps until the CD finally became the industry’s standard format for video and audio data.