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Compact Disc Turns 30

IEEE Salutes Philips for Development of the CD

Sunday (March 6) is the 30th anniversary of the demonstration of the first CD prototype, code-named “Pinkeltje” at the time after a character in Dutch children’s literature.

Royal Philips Electronics — “Philips,” to most people — is being honored this week with the IEEE Milestone Award for its contribution to the development of the compact disc.

Philips joins some esteemed company. The IEEE has given only 83 of these in 25 years; past recipients include folks like IBM for magnetic disk memory, JVC for VHS video and the developers of the first wearable cardiac pacemaker and electronic quartz wristwatch.

“Despite the recession of the early 1980s, Philips and Sony invested and planned for the successful commercial introduction of the compact disc in 1982,” IEEE stated. “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 billion audio CD players, 3 billion CD-ROM drives and an astonishing 240 billion CD discs have been sold.”

IEEE President/CEO John Vig put it this way in the announcement: “The compact disc was a revolutionary new concept that fulfilled a great consumer demand for a robust, high-quality compact audio medium. By leveraging research advances in optics, mechatronics, microelectronics, digital signal processing and error control coding, a unique platform was created that has really changed the audio as well as the computing world.”