The Year 1979: The Birth of the CD
In 1979, something groundbreaking happened in the world of music and technology. It all started when Philips, a big Dutch electronics company, decided to introduce a new kind of music player in Japan. This wasn't just any player; it was a prototype of what would become the CD player we know today.
Philips was on a mission to create something new and amazing, and they chose Japan as their first stop because it was a hub for electronics innovation.
Now, this new prototype got the attention of Sony, another big player in the electronics world. Unlike some other companies that were taking a cautious approach, Sony was already exploring digital recording technology. They saw something exciting in Philips' prototype and decided to get on board.
Sony and Philips joined forces to make this groundbreaking technology a global standard. They knew that this was going to be a game-changer.
At the same time, Sony's top executives were in action. They had important meetings with Philips' team. These quick and important discussions between the big bosses of both companies played a crucial role in making the CD a reality.
As Sony got more involved, they had lots of questions and ideas for Philips. Sony had been working on digital audio technology for a while, so they had valuable insights. They didn't waste time and, remarkably, within a year, they came up with the specifications for what they called the "Red Book."
Here are some key things they decided on:
- The CD would have a size similar to compact cassettes, which were popular at the time. This was considerate of people who liked listening to music in their cars.
- The greatest advantage of digital audio was no loss of sound quality by having the same sampling frequency from recording to editing, cutting, and disc production. This was necessary to be able to easily use the many master sources already recorded on the PCM-1600. This revolutionary decision meant that the same sampling frequency would be used for professional use and consumer use alike.
- The length of the CD was based on the Japanese love of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Being able to fit that piece of music on one disc would give meaning to the new media. Phillips insisted that 75 minutes would allow enough room for the piece to be conducted at any tempo.
- After extensive tests, they agreed on a 16-bit system for optimal sound quality. Philips had pegged the CD as an easy listening medium for in-car audio and insisted that a quantization bit number of 14 could theoretically produce a dynamic range of 86db and would be adequate for consumer use.
- Interestingly, the inner hole was even based on the size of a Dutch 10-cent coin one of the engineers had.
- Initially called the "Compact Disc", they later changed the name to "Compact Disc Digital Audio" because of trademark concerns.
So, in 1979, thanks to the collaboration between Philips and Sony, the CD was born. It was a game-changing moment in music history, and it laid the foundation for the way we listen to music today.