When did the average person first hear about CDs?

I’m putting this in CS so people can share their stories.

I turned 11 in 1982 and was a classical music fan (and remain so, though I only listened to classical then). I think that’s when I first heard about CDs on the classical station. IIRC, CDs were first promoted heavily as a great medium for classical before they were promoted for pop, etc. I remember a bit of gushing about the amazing sound without pops, clicks, etc.

Again IIRC, the first CDs were put out in 1983. I do own a CD from 1983, but it is by a Japanese artist (I bought this used in the mid-90s when I lived in Japan).

CDs seemed to take off pretty slowly in the late 80s. There was a small section of stuff at your Camelot and other chains. It wasn’t really until the early 90s that CDs began to dominate the record store.

What are your recollections?

What do you mean by “average person”?

I remember hearing about them in the early 80’s, but never heard one until probably mid-late 80’s. Didn’t actually own one until early 90’s. Haven’t bought a new one since 2003 0r 4. Haven’t listened to one since…well last year? maybe? A coworker gave me a demo of his band :rolleyes:, but before that several years.

Before 1986, but not exactly sure when. I remember going by an electronics store at a local mall (remember those?), and saw a small disc. I asked what movie it was, figuring it was a scaled-down Laser Disc, but they told me it was just music. I was sometime later that I heard the term ‘CD,’ but that was when I first found that these small disks were music and not movies.

I was subscribing to several musical hifi magazines back then, so it was about 1982. I didn’t buy one until around 1985. I think around 1990 they really took off as far as vinyl and cassette sales dropping.

I heard of them a few months before their introduction in 1982. They were touted as the audio only cousin of the laser video disc. Radio stations in my town quickly started playing CDs instead of vinyl records. I didn’t buy my first one until 1992, when the prices started dropping below $100. I stopped actually listening to them when I bought an mp3 player and converted my CDs. By 2010, I was downloading all of my music.

I seem to recall I “heard about them” around 85-ish. My rotten ex-girlfriend bought a player from JCP around 86 (and I bought her the Janet Jackson CD :rolleyes: ).

I bought my first CD, A Decade of Dan later that year. Still have it. Listened to it a week or so ago.

Yeah, I very vaguely remember seeing one (or more) in a store at some point during my high school years (I graduated in '85).

My sophomore-year college roommate ('86-87) had a CD player, at a time when that was relatively unusual but not unheard-of.

I remember it was big news when they started releasing the Beatles’ albums on CD, which was in 1987. I think by then just about everybody would have been familiar enough with CDs to understand why that was a big deal.

Huh. I was born in 1985, and there was still a time in my life when everyone I knew only used cassettes. I always thought they were at least a 90s phenomenon, even if they existed in the 80s.

I was working in libraries in the mid-1980s, and I had heard a lot about CDs but didn’t see one until a few years after they were introduced.

One interesting thing I recall is that there wasn’t a consensus about what to call them. I remember people coming into the library to ask if we had any “discs.” Not CDs or compact discs, just “discs.” This resulted in some confusion, because LPs are also discs. I also recall a supervisor who insisted on calling them “optical discs” and seemed to think I was an idiot when I didn’t know what that meant.

I also remember that, early on, people somehow got the idea that CDs were indestructible (this was before most people had actually seen or handled one). I remember a coworker talking about how you could throw a CD on the floor and stomp on it without affecting its playability (he hadn’t seen one either; this was just something he “heard”). There was some disappointment when we learned that although they weren’t as fragile as LPs, CDs could indeed be damaged by mishandling.

Oh, and the complaints about CDs not sounding as “warm” as LPs started right from the beginning. I heard that in 1982 or 1983.

I was in college in the 1980s; I’d heard of CDs by 1983 or 1984. By 1985 (my junior year of school), I knew several people who had CD players as part of their component stereo systems.

When I got out of grad school in '89, I bought my first “real” (i.e., component) stereo system, and I was excited about buying a CD player as part of it. However, at that point, IIRC, CD players in boomboxes and car stereos were still kind of uncommon, and “Walkman” portable cassette players were still very common. When I bought a new car in 1991, the stereo had a cassette deck, but no CD player (which was, I think, a higher-end option). I don’t think that I owned a portable CD player (either a boombox or a Walkman-style player) until the mid '90s.

I started buying them in '83, when I started making enough money to afford them. I bought a lot of discs that year. We didn’t call records discs much in my neck of the woods, but the guys that played them on the radio were disc jockeys.

By the mid-1980s a lot of the album rock/classic rock stations were billing themselves as playing “laser rock” by which they meant they were playing the same music, only off “laser discs” as they were sometimes colloquially known.

I’d describe my personal experience but it would not be relevant as I am far, far above average.

I think I first heard about them as a futuristic item in 1984 or early 1985 (when I was about ten), but the first time I was in the same room as one was at the end of 1986. I bought my first one in 1990 before I had a CD player to play it on (a friend copied it onto cassette for me).

I honestly didn’t know they existed in the 1980s beyond specialist applications until I joined the boards.

Living in New Zealand, I think I was aware of their existence in maybe 1990; they’d supplanted cassettes by the time I started high school in the mid-90s although you could still get new albums on cassette without too much trouble if you were so inclined.

By the time I moved to Australia at the turn of the century, it was CD music all the way, although most cars still only seemed to have cassette players in them (particularly the older ones university students like myself would have) so dubbing albums from CD to cassette to listen to them was still a thing until the advent of cheap MP3 players with decent storage sizes in the early-mid 2000s, and even then they still had to be hooked up via a cassette tape to 3.5mm headphone jack converter system.

Certain friends were buying them around 1986 – I recall one had a CD/cassette/radio “boombox.” In 1988 I got a CD player as part of my new stereo system, just before heading off to college. I can’t remember what my first CD purchase was – I owned around 30 of them by the end of '88 – but R.E.M.'s Green would have been an early one (released Nov. '88). I didn’t bother buying a turntable for college, so the conversion to CDs was quick, with cassettes smoothing the transition.

I recall them being shown in the BBC program “tomorrow’s world” in 1981 or so. I also went to London on a football trip with my School in 1982 and saw a huge window display on Regents St. with one single solitary CD player and disc in middle of it. Obviously some kind of teaser campaign.

They became mainstream in 1985 and I bought a player myself when I left school in '86 and started earning my own money. My friend bought his first car the year after and immediately put a CD player in it. The first song we listened to was “Girlfriend in a coma” by the Smiths as their final album was one of the first ones he bought.

I don’t remember when I first heard of them (I was only 10 when they were introduced) but I got my first player as a Christmas player in 1986 or 1987, thanks to a clearance model being available at Big Lots for the low, low price of barely over $100. (I got my first portable “Discman” style one a couple of years later, for a hundred dollars used, at a flea market. All new ones still cost considerably more than that.)

I had a player in the mid-80s and my first CD was Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms, which I believe was the first CD to sell a million copies here in the US.

Never thought of myself as an early-adopter, though.


I can’t claim above-average-osity, but from an outlier standpoint, I first heard about digital record through guitar magazines. Ry Cooder was featured in articles as doing the “first digital recording” with his album Borderline. Ry Cooder - Borderline | Releases, Reviews, Credits | Discogs

I just liked the cover :wink:

But a scan of that discogs page shows it was released as an LP in 1980, so the connection to CD isn’t direct. But it was a topic in the magazines from that point and it wasn’t long before CDs were happening. Have to ponder a bit more.