October 1st, 2012
It’s been 30 years. On October 1, 1982, the Compact Disc, or simply the CD, was commercialized in Japan by Sony. The CD was several years in the making, with Philips and Sony developing their own digital music disc technology starting in the 1970s. They finally settled on the Redbook CD Standard, which set the specifications for the CD we have come to know. Key specs. are an approximately 5″ diameter and encoding in 16-bit/44.1 kHz resolution.
30 years ago today, Sony commercialized a collection of rock, pop, jazz, and classical music titles. A key series of CDs released that day was the 35DP series of rock, pop, and jazz titles. The “35” represents the retail price of ¥3,500. The “D” stands for digital. The “P” stands for popular, as in popular music. The first title in the 35DP series, appropriately assigned catalog number 35DP 1, was Billy Joel’s 1978 blockbuster, 52nd Street.
There is something special about the original CDs that Sony released in Japan 30 years ago. As expected, aluminum was used as the reflective material for the earliest pressings. However, the label side has a gold tone. The play side is the standard silver color of aluminum. Sony presumably added a dye to produce the gold color on the label side. These first CDs with the gold tone are quite rare and highly sought after by collectors. They were quickly replaced by CDs with the standard silver tone on the label side. The gold-tone pressing 52nd Street is shown below.
So, Happy Birthday to the CD. Although downloads are replacing CDs as the preferred digital format for many listeners, CD technology continues to evolve on the mastering side and the playback side. 30 years later, music lovers and audiophiles continue to be treated to many quality CD releases. Here’s hoping CD aficionados are treated to many more for years to come.
The first Japanese CD issue of Billy Joel 52nd Street (CBS/Sony, catalog number 35DP 1). This particular CD is a rare original pressing from 1982 with a gold tone on the label side of the disc. The disc has “MANUFACTURED BY CBS/SONY RECORDS INC.” stamped on the plastic ring. The matrix code is “35DP-1-2 1A2” and is stamped in the original CBS/Sony plant crude font. Later pressings of 52nd Street under catalog number 35DP 1 have the conventional silver tone on the label side.