Sony History

A Great Invention 100 Years On

On August 31, 1982, an announcement was made in Tokyo that four companies, Sony, CBS/Sony, Philips, and Polygram had jointly developed the world's first CD system. These companies announced that they would commence domestic sales in the autumn. From the evening of August 31 to the next morning, there were many news reports about the CD system, touting it as pictthe development of the amazing digital CD playerpict and pictthe arrival of the digital age.pict The 12 cm CD player was light and compact, offering a one-touch selection function, was compact, lightweight and utilized a medium that was almost permanently durable. It was a dream come true for many audio fans. The CD system represented a fresh wind of change for the recession-ridden audio equipment industry.

On October 1, 1982, Sony launched the CDP-101. Ohga said, pictIn demonstrations, Sony had positioned the disc vertically in the player, but it was actually easier to insert the disc horizontally.pict As a result, the CDP-101 was manufactured so that the disc spun on a horizontal plane. Other companies designed systems in which the disc was inserted vertically, in the same way as Sony's test model, the pictGoronta.pict

The CD Prototype Goronta exhibited at the Audio Fair in fall 1981.
The CD Prototype "Goronta" exhibited at the Audio Fair in fall 1981.

It had been approximately 100 years since Edison invented the phonograph, and record technology had been revolutionized about every 25 years since. First, the cylinder system was changed to the disc system. Then the electric record system and the LP record were invented. Soon after, monophonic sound was superseded by stereophonic sound. Finally in 1982, 100 years after the Edison phonograph, digital audio technology was born.

Idei named the first Sony system the CDP-101. He worked relentlessly to launch the system and had based the model name on the numerals 0101 as a reference to the digital medium. In the binary language, 0101 represents the number five. Idei chose the number five to indicate that the product was of a medium class. The product launch actually took place without Idei, who was lying on a hospital bed suffering from a bout of pneumonia he had caught during the frenzy to commercialize the system. When Idei saw the CDP-101 advertisements in newspapers in the hospital, he said to himself, pictAh, it has finally been launched.pict

The CDP-101 retailed at 168,000 yen, a steep price for the average consumer. However, compared with other systems, Sony's was actually inexpensive. There was talk of developing a less costly and more compact model. Given the short development period, it was a miracle that they had managed to commercialize the system at all.

Some time later, the sample discs that had been used all over the world for demonstrations found their way back to the engineers. Although the surfaces were covered with scratches, when the discs were put in the player, the sound quality was as if new. In addition, while Sony was launching the CDP-101, CBS/Sony launched the world's first fifty CD titles, the very first one being pict52nd Streetpict by Billy Joel.

The first fifty titles included classical, popular and rock releases. CBS/Sony took the opportunity to sell not only to audio fans but also to a wide range of people. Until then, electronics companies had only targeted such high-end audio products like the component stereo system representing 5% of audio fans. After the second and third set of CD titles were released, the total number of titles at the end of the year reached approximately one hundred.

When the three different digital audio disc systems were appraised at the DAD Conference two years earlier, the Sony and JVC systems were accepted. However, with Sony's launch of the CD system, almost all other hardware companies announced that they would market products based on the Sony and Philips standard. In this way, the CD became accepted as the defacto industry standard, the result of an active worldwide promotion of the standard for a period of two years before product launch.

Thus, the CD system was introduced worldwide. All divisions at Sony cooperated to commercialize CD hardware. Moreover, both Sony and CBS/Sony jointly developed hardware and software, doing everything possible to make the CD a product of the future. Ohga later said, pictThere has never been an example as strong as the CD of how effectively the combined power of the Sony Group can be.pict

Chasing and Being Chased | " Our Contributions Are Equal " | X Day in October 1982 |
Opposed by Everyone | A Great Invention 100 Years On |