As the Compact Disc Turns 30, Recalling Our First CDs

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CD turns 30

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Flickr user Rich Jones, who took the photo of this massive CD collection on Jan. 12, asked Flickr users to help him organize it. (See more photos from this photographer.)

Whether we're early adherents of the compact disc (anyone here buy Billy Joel's "52nd Street," the first music CD ever made, in 1982?) or a late entries (someone admitted their first disc was the soundtrack to the 1998 "Pokemon" movie), we've all owned a CD or two (or a couple thousand) at some point in our lives.

As the venerable CD turns 30 on Monday, Yahoo News asked readers to share details of their first CD purchase and the times and events surrounding it. Here, in their own words, are their memories.


I was late to the CD game.

As one who had a hard time breaking up with vinyl, my first CD was bought the same day as my first CD player, from a now-defunct Pennsylvania department store in 1985. The prized CD? Bad Company's "10 From 6," a compilation of all the best Bad Co. rolled into one shiny, happy, digital bundle.

Eventually my beloved Bad Co. went the way of a bulk eBay sale, along with about 150 others I had collected.

There was something to be said for the CD: Not as bulky as an album, but not as bare bones as an MP3. Maybe we had it right 30 years ago.

-- Victoria Leigh Miller


Dec. 25, 1993, was the first time I owned a compact disk. The first two CDs that started my vast collection were "Achtung Baby" by U2 and "Wish" by The Cure. I recall listening to these two CDs without cease. Throughout the years, I accumulated well more than 100 CDs. Even though I do not listen to them anymore, I have them packed away safely in a suitcase.

-- D. Emile Delaney


I bought my first CD, "Check Your Head" by the Beastie Boys, in the summer of 1992 at a long-defunct suburban "record store" outside Boston. Always an avid classic rock fan, I had resisted joining the CD revolution during my late 1980s high school days due to fears the primal elements of bands like the Stones, Dead and Doors would somehow get programmed out during the CD remastering process.

However, my college years coincided with the explosion of what was known as "alternative rock," a broad term that pretty much meant anything new that didn't sound like Whitesnake and included the Beasties. They played UMass at the end of the 1992 spring semester and I was impressed not only with the chaotic energy but the solid musicianship, especially of the then-new "Check Your Head" material. I found the CD format delivered all the clever rhymes, sonic sorcery and joyous mayhem directly to me, bypassing obstacles like hiss and heavy air.

From then on I was a convert.

-- Dan Berthiaume


My first CD was "Kick" by INXS. I had been hoping and praying for a CD player, and some INXS to play on it. I finally got my wish. I went on to build a small collection of CDs, only buying albums I really cared about. (I did not have much money).

When digital songs became popular, I initially had trouble making the transition. I liked having that physical CD. I'm not sure when I changed, but it seemed to happen gradually. I guess I just got up one day and realized that CDs had become as limiting as tapes had seemed back in the '80s.

-- Kristen Dyrr


It was in 6th grade and I was turning 12. On my birthday, my friend Cortney gave me Boyz II Men's album "II." Oh, how that music is impregnated into my brain. Every DJ, at every dance I attended throughout junior high and high school played "I'll Make Love to You" and "On Bended Knee." Now, occasionally when those songs come on the radio, I'm transported back to a time when boys made me nervous and going to a dance meant giggling in the corner and on the rare occasion dancing (if you can call swaying back and forth with both arms outstretched on a boy's shoulders dancing).

-- Susan Cowden


The first CD my wife and I bought was Phantom of the Opera, a musical we both enjoyed. After that, I remember joining the Columbia Music Club and BMG Club, enticed by their offers of buying 12 CDs for a dollar, or something appealing, and then spending a fortune on shipping!

I had collected nearly 400 CDs, an eclectic collection of classic rock, country and easy listening. Sadly, my collection disappeared during my divorce, never to be heard again!

-- Morris Armstrong


Mariah Carey's "Daydream" album was the first compact disc I ever purchased. It was 1995 and I was 10 years old. All of my best friends raved about the bubble gum pop music from the iconic singer and I was desperate to sing along.

I begged my parents to take me to Warehouse Records, back when record shops still existed and mattered. I'll never forget pulling the cellophane wrapper off of the CD and opening the album's sleeve notes to reveal lyrics and liner notes. We had to drive nearly 30 minutes into town from our farm to get that CD, but it was worth it to me.

-- Marie Hersha


My love affair with the Beatles, and ultimately with recorded rock and roll, started with [a] collection of CDs. Now, about 20 years later, I have a massive collection of music both digitally, and in the form of those little shiny discs. My tastes have diversified, but I always come back to the love of the Beatles and how it all started. CDs were the last real "collectible" form of music, since everything now is translated to ones and zeroes. When my son was introduced to the Beatles, it was via my iPod, but I've made sure to get the CDs into his hands so he can see the artwork, and hold the album in his hands; hopefully making that same tactile impression in his own heart as I did in mine all those years ago.

-- James Schlarmann


Though I now have hundreds, I didn't buy my first two CDs until I was 18: a Mozart compilation and Ben E. King's Greatest Hits. They still remain favorites.

-- Eloah James


I remember the first CD I owned was a hand-me-down Boogie Down Productions compilation, but the first CD I ever bought was actually the late-great Aaliyah's "One in a Million." It was the beginning of what has become a collection of 150 to 200 CDs, and I can't forget the dozens of CDs I've bought as gifts for others or any others that I may have sold.

-- Hobson Lopes


Thirty years ago, I was working at Dayton's Department store in the music and electronics departments. Although I had more than 1,000 albums, I was the first person in my department to buy a Sony CD player in 1983. To go with it, I purchased the Police CD "Synchronicity." At the time, there was no bigger band on MTV or on the radio than the Police. The black-and-white video for "Every Breath You Take" was on everywhere. The ease of CDs really felt free. There were no cracks and pops. The music sounded clear and the future was here.

-- Georgia Makitalo


It wasn't the first CD I ever purchased, but the first one I truly fell in love with [...] was Eminem's debut album, the Slim Shady LP in 1999 and, despite the fact I did not care for rap, it appealed to me because the lyrics were truly amazing. He wasn't so much as rapping as he was telling a story through his music, and I knew he was going to be a huge success. I purchased it at a local music store in Ontario, Ore., and that CD marked the time that music became a truly important factor in my life.

-- William Lopez


Owing to the popularity of grunge music, my first-ever CD purchase was "Core," the first album by the Stone Temple Pilots. My choice was based on the popularity of the group and the video for the song "Plush." At 12, I was beginning to transform my musical tastes from that of a young '80s child (I owned every Huey Lewis and the News cassette!) to that of a teenager with the ability to refine my own taste.

-- R.K. Dexter


Nirvana's 1991 classic, "Nevermind," was the first compact disc I ever purchased, and it turned out to be a great choice. Little did I know that I would still be listening to the album more than 20 years later. The purchase led to the accumulation of a large collection of grunge and pop-punk compact discs, including iconic gems from bands like Green Day, Pearl Jam, the Offspring, Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. I have purchased more than 1,000 compact discs in my lifetime, and I still use them today.

-- Eric Holden

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