Flashback Friday: We Have Heard the Future of Music—And It’s CDs!

A column on the next big thing in music—from July 1983


Every Friday, we are publishing classic archival content in honor of our ’80s-themed July issue. Herewith, a column on the next big thing in music from July 1983:

The revolution arrived, improbably enough, a month ago in a box from Knoxville, Tennessee. Inside the box, protected by packing material and Styrofoam, was a piece of aluminum-colored, high-tech hardware about the size of a Los Angeles telephone book. On its top was a small compartment with a popup lid. Its beveled face displayed various buttons and a readout dial with numbers from one to 15 spaced across it.

That was it. Nice-looking design, clean and functional. Hardly intimidating. Yet there it was, the revolution—a Magnavox FD1000SL compact-disc digital audio player. Price: $800. Availability: if you’re lucky. Prognosis: to make home and car stereos, records and tapes totally obsolete in the next decade.

Compact-disc (“CD” in the new parlance) was first introduced to consumers in late 1982 and in Europe in March… About the only problem with CD players will be the price. While demand is high and supply short, prices should range between $750 and $1,000, with discount prices merely a dream. Insiders estimate it will take as long as two years for prices to begin coming down, with simple players priced at perhaps $250 to $350 in three years.

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