25 January 2016

The Road to CD - Prototypes and More

cd prototypes

The use of digital audio began in 1973 when Nippon Broadcast (with DENON) in Japan and BBC in the UK installed the first digital tape based recorders in their studios.

In 1977 at the Tokio Audio Fair Mitsubishi, Hitachi and Sony presented the first digital disc prototypes for audio reproduction. Below you can see a SONY prototype, using a 30 cm audio disc, presented in 1978 (left) and the SONY DAD-X1 digital audio disc prototype from 1979 (right)

cd prototype

During this time PHILIPS was working with MCA on a 30 cm laser read video disc that was introduced to the market by PHILIPS as Laservision in 1978. This video disc had analog audio channels, not digital. (Digital audio was introduced to this format later by PIONEER who promoted the system as Laserdisc, however you can also find earlier Laserdisc units and software with analog audio too.) 

PHILIPS Laservision

On 8th of march 1979 at a press conference PHILIPS presented a small 115mm diameter (1 hour playtime) digital audio disc and the PHILIPS "Pinkeltje" prototype player using the Compact Disc name and logo (without the additional Digital Audio text) There were 10 PHILIPS "Pinkeltje" prototypes built using a CDM-0 prototype laser mechanism.

philips cd press 1979

Other companies were also working on their own disc format. Below is one of them, the SHARP digital audio disc prototype using a 135 mm disc and the SONY Goronta prototype using the 120 mm Compact Disc in 1981.

sony gornta sharp pcm

As a result of the cooperation between SONY and PHILIPS it was agreed a new standard for a 120mm digital optical disc that we know today as Compact Disc. The first hearing demo was held in Saizburg in April 1981 where both PHILIPS and SONY presented their prototypes playing the same 120mm Compact Disc. The picture below shows from left to right, Joop Sinjou (PHILIPS), Herbert von Karajan and Akio Morita (SONY).

cd press conference

Take a closer look at the two prototypes shown to Herbert von Karajan by 
PHILIPS (left) and SONY (right)

philips sony cd prototypes

Finally here are the two "world first" CD player the 


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