First CD Prototype Celebrates 30 Years

These technology birthdays are always up for debate -- are we basing birthdays on the first prototype? The first shipping product? The first patent application? What? There's also no governmental agency to decide upon these highly important matters, so unfortunately, we're at the mercy of the party planners.

On the plus side, this chaos usually leads to more celebrations than usual, and that's exactly what we're seeing here. If you'll recall, we actually celebrated the 25th birthday of the Compact Disc in 2007, so obviously, celebrating its 30th in 2009 just seems a bit odd. Turns out, the 25th birthday was celebrating the silver anniversary of the discs rolling off of assembly lines. This birthday is celebrating something just a bit different, though it's something we feel is equally remarkable in the grand scheme of things.

IEEE, the world's largest technical professional society, has recently granted its own IEEE Milestone Award to Royal Philips Electronics for its contribution to the development of the CD on March 6th, 2009. According to the IEEE, the award coincides with the "30th anniversary of the historic demonstration of the first CD prototype, codenamed 'Pinkeltje' on March 8th, 1979." So, there you have it -- maybe this isn't the true 30th birthday for the CD, but it's still a worthwhile cause for breaking out the streamers and junk food.

If you have any question about how the Compact Disc has affected the music and electronics industry at large, have a glance at these figures. According to IEEE, the CD was the first ever digital mass consumer product to find its way into almost every consumer's home; since its introduction in 1982, over 3.5 million audio CD players, 3 billion CD-ROM drives and 240 billion CD discs have been sold. And although bite-sized MP3 files are certainly looking to take their place on the throne, we'd wager that CDs aren't done making their impact yet.