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The compact disc hits its quarterlife crisis

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By Corinne Love

By Corinne Love

For some of us, Aug. 17 is not a historically important date. But for technophiles and pop culture trivia buffs, Aug. 17 marks a relevant day in pop culture history.

While it may be experiencing a quarter life crisis, the original data storage media has enjoyed a surprising 25 years.

The Compact Disc was originally developed by Giants and Phillips in August 1979.

The first disc produced was ABBA’s The Visitors in 1982, and in America it was Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.”

Early drafts of the CD only had 60 minutes of storage available on the 11.5cm disk, but then it was increased to 12cm to hold 74 minutes to accommodate Beethoven’s 9th symphony.

Many of the early CDs released were classical titles, as the CD was marketed primarily towards jazz and classical aficionados and audiophiles, early versions of the CD as well as accompanying CD players were steep in price.

Sony released the first commercial CD player, the CDP-101 which was priced around $900.

Since its initial release, 200 Billion CDs have been sold.

Not too shabby, for a “dying” medium.

As it nears what music critics are citing as “retirement,” the CD is still managing to sell, last year the biggest seller according to Soundscan and Billboard was Disney’s “High School Musical: The Soundtrack,” a tween phenomenon that has led to the production of a sequel as well as a feature length movie.

However, as the digital music format continues to evolve faster than the speed of light, the record industry is having trouble marketing CDs to Generation Y consumers.

Older patrons still believe in the shiny circular object and make up the majority of music sales outside the internet.

Like the mp3, the CD was considered to be a fluke and would never be able to compete with the audio quality of vinyl records and audio cassette tapes.

However, the CD proved successful,outselling both and driving the two formats to near obsolete status.

While there is still a fan base for the tangible music format, the digital music “revolution” proves to be more lucrative for artists and at times a hindrance.

Reports surfaced in August, that rap star 50 cent was enraged by hearing reports that tracks off his upcoming album “Curtis” had leaked onto the internet,allegedly the rap star was so furious that he dismounted a plasma TV from a wall.

Some artists may frown upon peer to peer sharing, and other artists openly welcome it. UK sensation, Lady Sovereign has the internet to thank for her virtual overnight success.

The pint sized rapper, uploaded rough demo tracks onto her MySpace page and encouraged friends and fans to share the tracks with as many people as possible to generate “buzz.”

Time will tell if the mp3 will push the sickly CD as well as the dying record store into obscurity, until that time, 25 years plus is an incredible amount of time for any technological format to reign at the top.

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