11 August 2010

Eulogy for the Compact Disc

From: PSFK
Date: 30/08/10

Last Friday was the 25th anniversary of the Compact Disc. Rather than a celebration, however, I think a Eulogy is in order. In only 25 short years, the format is on the verge of extinction. You know the culprit.

The first commercial CD rolled off the production line on August 17, 1982 in a Phillips factory near Hanover, Germany. It took almost six years for CDs to begin outselling vinyl records, but the format would only shine for around a decade more, with the launch of Napster in 1999 signaling a change in the future of music consumption. According to CNN, sales of CDs peaked in 2001 and have declined nearly 22% to date.

Perhaps the fate of the cassette tape can offer some insight into where CD sales will stand in 10 years. According to the LATimes, sales of cassette tapes dwindled from 442 million in 1990 to 700,000 last year. I know what you’re thinking… who in the heck bought those 700,000 cassette tapes this year?

Why not embrace the death of the CD? Certainly all those compact discs being thrown away can’t be good for the environment. With the growth of hard drive capacity and online storage, we don’t need them anyways. The automotive industry seems to share this opinion. According to a Detroit News article from June 17th of this year, CDs may be gone from the dashboard as early as 2012. In fact, DaimlerChrysler already introduced MyGiG in 2006, a system that allows you to save your music on a 20GB hard drive. Countless other auto manufacturers are allowing portable music players to integrate with stereo systems.

Soon enough, we will file away the memory of the compact disc with the likes of the LP and the cassette tape. Until then, we’ll just have to let them take up space.

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