The CD Is Dead, Long Live The CD

How artists, from Britney Spears to Metallica, and fans celebrated the now-obsolete medium.

On Oct. 1, 1982, CDs began to be sold commercially for the first time in Japan, though they wouldn’t make their way to North America and Europe until March 1983. The discs were new and an enormous technological advancement at the time. They were far more portable than the decades-old vinyl record, and a sleek alternative to cassette tapes. (Plus, you didn’t have to rewind them!)

The first album to be released on CD format was Billy Joel’s 52nd Street. The album reached the market in Japan alongside Sony’s CDP-101, the first commercially available CD player, which originally retailed for almost $1,000 (about $3,000 today). In the 1990s, CD album releases at record stores like Tower Records and Virgin Megastores became huge events, with lines of people often waiting overnight and a multitude of famous musicians making in-store appearances for promotional purposes. But by the late 2000s, the CD lost popularity in favor of iTunes and streaming services like Spotify. Let’s not forget, though, that for a little more than two decades, the CD was king.

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