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Exactly 25 years ago tomorrow, on August 17, 1982, Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG, AEX:PHI) manufactured the world’s first Compact Disc at a Philips factory in Langenhagen, just outside of Hanover, Germany. The invention of the CD ushered in a technological revolution in the music industry as CDs – with their superior sound quality and scratch free durability – marked the beginning of the shift from analogue to digital music technology. The CD became a catalyst for further innovation in digital entertainment, helping pave the way for the launch of DVD and the current introduction of Blu-ray optical media. Having played a key role in the innovation of digital music, at home and on the move, consumers continue to witness huge advances in entertainment and lifestyle technologies.
The Philips factory in Germany, where the world’s first CD was pressed, belonged to Polygram – the recording company, which Philips owned at the time. The first CD to be manufactured at the plant was “The Visitors” by ABBA. By the time CDs were introduced on the market in November 1982, a catalogue of around 150 titles – mainly classical music – had been produced. The first CDs and CD players – including Philips’ CD100 – were introduced in Japan in November, followed by a US and European market introduction in March of 1983.
As early as 1979, Philips and Sony set up a joint task force of engineers to design the new digital audio disc. Many decisions were made in the year to follow – such as the disc diameter. The original target storage capacity for a CD was one hour of audio content, and a disc diameter of 115 mm was sufficient for this, however both parties extended the capacity to 74 minutes to accommodate a complete performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. In June 1980, the new standard was proposed by Philips and Sony as the “Red Book” containing all the technical specification for all CD and CD-Rom standards.