The Sony Discman D-50 changed the music industry, which at the time was dominated by cassette tapes and vinyl records. For the first time, users were able to listen to their music CDs on the go.
What is the Sony Discman D-50?
The Sony Discman D-50 was the world’s first portable CD player. It was released by Sony in 1984, only a short time after the first CD sound system had hit the consumer market. At the time of its release, the majority of the music was still being released on cassette tape. That made the D-50 a game-changer for music enthusiasts.
It was an impressive device, mainly because the technology behind it was so new. The stationary CD players were already quite complex, and the fact that the D-50 had to be portable meant that everything had to be miniaturized. Each CD player contained an error correction chip, which was the most complex consumer device on the market at the time. That too had to be miniaturized.
The D-50 has been the subject of several urban myths, including that the design shouldn’t be bigger than 3-4 CDs stacked on top of each other. That wasn’t far from the truth, which meant that it was branded as the world’s smallest CD player because it could fit in a small bag or a large pocket.
There was a catch, however.
The D-50 didn’t come with its own power source. That meant users had to purchase an additional battery, which has to be quite large to accommodate the new technology. So big, in fact, that it was impractical to carry around. That made the advertisement for a portable CD player seem very exaggerated.
To remedy this problem, several different batteries and battery cases were produced. Of these, the EPB-9C battery-case was the most popular one. It encased the entire CD player and had room for either one rechargeable NP-11 battery or six disposable batteries. Not only did the EPB-9C protect the fragile D-50, but it also came with shoulder straps to help users carry the bulky pack around.
Another rumor is that the D-50 was intentionally made affordable to make sure that CDs took off on the consumer market. That was also close to the truth, as it was considerably cheaper than the stationary CDP-101 sound system designed for home use. That said, neither CD player was anywhere near as affordable as later models.
The D-50 was on the market for a few years after its initial release and underwent some changes. The original name for it was “compact disc player”, but consumers dubbed it “Discman” due to its similarities with Sony’s Walkman.
Sony achieved their original goal for the D-50, which was to make CDs as a storage format more popular. The D-50 inspired other manufacturers to produce their own portable CD players, which pushed the average cost down. It also led record companies to invest more in CDs as a format for music albums.
Other Music Players Related to Sony Discman D-50
The D-50 was based on the earlier CDP-101 and Sony’s Walkman. Phillips later released what they dubbed an Intelligent Discman, which played CD-i discs.
Features and Benefits of the Sony Discman D-50
Apart from being portable, the D-50 enables users to skip, pause, and fast forward tracks. It also had a line out so that it could be connected to a speaker system.
Image courtesy of Engadget.