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Apple Tries To Phase Out CDs With New Line Of Macs

Blu-ray Media, CD-R, DVD-R, TechnologyNancy Woo30 October 2012

Talk of the end has been happening for a few years now – no, not just the end of the world, but the end of the familiar data storage devices known as CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. With more digital downloads, virtual space creation, mp3 players and storage in the cloud, rumors have been spreading that the inevitable end of CDs is just around the corner. Vinyl and cassette tapes have faced their inevitable demise, so are CDs going down the same path?

Apple plays no small part in the shift from optical disc drives to alternative storage. Since 2008, Apple has been starting to phase out optical disc drives in their computers, but it has generally been slow and gradual. CDs are still a primary method of information transference for many people.

However, just a few days ago Apple announced their newest line-up of computers, and only two out of a slew of new computers contained a drive for discs. One of the reasons for this is that Apple is somewhat like a beauty pageant princess going for the gold – their computers just keep getting slimmer and slimmer, and the Macbook Air has long been too thin to contain room for a disc drive. But except for the Mac Pro and Macbook Pro without a Retina display, all other lines of Apple products, including the iMac, Macbook Air and Macbook Pro with Retina displays, all astonishingly lacked an optical disc drive.

The sleeker, slimmer models come at a price – there is no convenient way to use CDs, DVDs or Blu-Ray. While it’s true that other types of data are available, many people own collections of musical CDs, DVDs or Blu-Ray discs. And what about when professional data discs need to be accessed? If the end of the CD is in fact headed our way, the time has not come yet.

It’s not, though, impossible to access discs with any of the new Macs. All you would have to do is buy an external disc drive. Apple sells their USB SuperDrive for $79 and other brands are even cheaper. Is the transition to sleek worth the hassle? Many will think so, but the CD isn’t out of sight yet – Apple is just making us work a little harder for it now.

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The Compact Disc Turned 30 This Month

CD-R, Special OccasionsNancy Woo07 October 2012

Earlier this month the CD celebrated a significant birthday – it’s been 30 years this October since the compact disc was introduced to the world in 1982. The CD has become such a ubiquitous piece of technology that anyone 25 or younger probably couldn’t even imagine a world without it. These pre-quarter centurions may have heard parents tell fond tales of record players and listened to them wax nostalgic about the satisfaction of running down to the local record store after school to pick up their favorite rock star’s new vinyl.

And even though vinyl lovers will always prefer that medium of music, the CD brought with it unparalleled new advances for music lovers everywhere. On October 1, 1982 Billy Joel released the first ever digital compact disc for his sixth studio album, 52nd Street, in Japan, along with the first ever Sony CD player, and history was made. Whatever you think of Billy Joel, this album changed the way people listened to music forever.

No longer did you have to get up every few songs to switch the vinyl over, instead, you could listen to an album all the way through; no longer did artists have to limit their song lengths to fit on one side of a disc, now they could enjoy the freedom of producing 10 minute long masterpieces; no longer did the audio quality crackle, for this new digital sound was clear and crisp.

At first, music CDs were quite expensive, retailing for around $15, or $35 in today’s dollars, and CD players were a whopping $730, or in today’s terms, $1,750. No wonder CD manufacturers first targeted classic music lovers and serious audiophiles – the general public wasn’t about the drop that much money to replace an already established vinyl collection. Slowly but surely, however, CDs became prolific.

Today, vinyl sales are making an astonishing comeback and mp3 digital downloads are quickly becoming the norm, but CDs are still the primary form of music listening for most people. Just like how today’s Gen X parents’ won’t ever fully forget the pleasure of vinyl, something similar occurs with CDs, despite the increasingly virtual nature of society. As people move more and more toward virtual identities and digital data storage, there is still an innately human instinct to want to physically hold a beloved object in their hands, a need to feel that the music they love is tangible and real. For this reason, CDs are unlikely to disappear completely, and like vinyl, might even gain prestige the longer they can stick around.

Happy birthday, compact disc. We’ve enjoyed having you and look forward to another great 30 years.

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