As we are all aware, technology is ever changing. The invention of the CD (compact disc) obviously did not happen over night and it's history is quite interesting. It evolved through the normal trial and errors associated with the inventing process. After doing a little research, which included an on-line visit to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, I have found the inventor of the compact disc to be James Russell. Unfortunately it is the big names of corporations, like Phillips and Sony that you hear about more often than the researchers themselves.
James Russell was born in 1931 and started inventing at a very early age. After receiving a B.A. in physics at Reed College in Portland (1953) he moved to Washington and went to work for General Electric, surprisingly enough, as a physicist. More than 10 years pass when James decided to expand his horizons and take a position as senior scientist with Battelle Memorial Institute, (Battelle) where he submitted his patent for the cd concept in July of 1969.
Batelle can be accredited for the development of xerography, which led to today's office copy machines and spawned XeroxTM, plus breakthroughs such as improving tool bits to understanding the behavior of materials that were crucial to the space age, and of course the development of algorithms and coatings for early optical digital recording that led to the compact disc.
Eventually other companies, like Phillips, started experimenting with audio-only optical discs. Their researchers used video Laserdisc technology to help in the development of their first prototypes of digital audio discs. Sony and other companies quickly followed suit. In 1979 Sony agreed to join efforts with Phillips to fully design the new digital audio disc. A year later this giant task force proposed worldwide standards and called it the "Red Book". Some of these proposed standards may have included the sampling rate (44.1 kHz), the 16-bit stero sound, the Reed-Solomon code, and the maximum playing time of 74 minutes, to name a few.
This collaboration ended fairly quickly and the race was on to see who could produce the first compact disc player. Supposedly, as the story goes, due to Sony's expertise on the implementation of digital electronics they beat Phillips by one month. In 1982 compact disc technology was finally released in Europe and Japan. Then in 1983, the United States got their chance to help with the phenomenon that took the music industry by storm. Some 30,000 players were sold at about $1,000 a piece and a mere 800,000 cd's were sold as well. Just three years later the numbers continued to grow by leaps and bounds. These numbers are truly astonishing. About 3 million players and 53 million cd's were sold. It is my guess that it will probably be a long time coming that an invention will take off like the introduction of the compact disc, but no one really knows.