Smartphones and MP3 players provide seamless access not only to one’s entire music library but to nearly every artist or track available. Compared to these, the compact disc (CD) player might be seen as something of a relic. A CD is a small plastic disc originally developed to store and play recorded sound but later also used for other digital material (e.g., photos). In a tech-savvy world, the thought of carrying around a CD—loaded with no more than 15 or so tracks—and switching it out every hour or so sounds like a Stone Age practice. However, the MP3 and streaming media are not just the CD’s replacements but its descendants. This entry discusses the history, technical specifications, rise, and fall of the CD.


In the 1970s, ...

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