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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

March 8, 1979

I'm going to take a little break from the fan fic posting for a little while to bring you today's edition of the Tuesday Timeline.  And the only thing that I can tell you about today's timeline subject is that it influenced the way we heard our favourite least for a little while anyway.

That will be your only clue in this electronic inspired posting for today.  But since we're here, why don't we have a look at what other events of historical significance took place on the 8th of March - I think it's quite an impressive list.

1010 - Ferdowski completes his epic poem, "Shahnameh"

1618 - Johannes Kepler discovers the third law of planetary motion

1775 - "African Slavery in America" is published by an anonymous author calling for the emancipation of slaves and the abolishment of slavery

1817 - The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is established

1868 - Eleven soldiers from France lose their lives after being ambushed by Japanese Samurai in Osaka, Japan

1920 - The Arab Kingdom of Syria is established

1921 - "Gilligan's Island" actor Alan Hale Jr. (d. 1990) is born in Los Angeles, California

1922 - Actress/dancer Cyd Charisse (d. 2008) is born in Amarillo, Texas

1936 - The first oval stock car race is held at Daytona Beach and Road Course

1937 - The Battle of Guadalajara takes place during the Spanish Civil War

1943 - Actress Lynn Redgrave (d. 2010) is born in Marylebone, London, England

1949 - "Axis Sally" is imprisoned for treason

1957 - Following the Suez Crisis, Egypt re-opens the Suez Canal

1971 - Joe Frazier defeats Muhammad Ali in "The Fight of the Century"

1974 - Charles de Gaulle Airport opens in Paris, France

1983 - President Ronald Reagan condemns the Soviet Union, branding them an "evil empire" while speaking at a convention of Evangelicals

1999 - Baseball player Joe DiMaggio dies at the age of 84

2004 - Actor Robert Pastorelli dies of a drug overdose, aged 49

2011 - "Alice In Chains" bass player Mike Starr dies at the age of 44

2014 - Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears; it is believed that all 239 passengers are confirmed deceased despite the fact that only pieces of the craft were ever found

2015 - "The Simpsons" co-creator Sam Simon dies of cancer, aged 59

And here is just a small list of celebrities who are turning one year older today!  Dick Hyman, George Innes, Susan Clark, Bruce Broughton, Micky Dolenz, Randy Meisner, Michael Allsup, Carole Bayer Sager, Richard Ouzounian, Pepper MaShay, Jim Rice, John Kapelos, Cynthia Rothrock, Bob Stoddard, Gary Numan, Lester Holt, Aidan Quinn, Buck Williams, Camryn Manheim, Leon Robinson, Kate Betts, Shawn Mullins, Andrea Parker, Meredith Scott Lynn, Angie Hart, Boris Kodjoe, Juan Encarnacion, Freddie Prinze Jr., Hines Ward, James Van Der Beek, Nick Zano, Charli Robinson, Kat Von D, Benny Blanco, Elly Jackson, Kristinia DeBarge, and Stephanie Davis.

I would also like to take this time to send out my condolences to Randy Meisner following the death of his wife on March 6, 2016.  Thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.

Let us take a look at the date for today's Tuesday Timeline flashback.

We're going back to March 8, 1979

1979 was a year in which disco was at the top of the charts (at least for a little while), "Good Times" went off the air, "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "The Facts of Life" made their debut, and where "Kramer vs. Kramer" was the highest grossing film at the box office.

And if you were around in 1979, you would know that the prime source of buying music at that time was vinyl records.

Now, I'm old enough to know and remember vinyl records.  When I was born, my mother used to play the soundtrack to "Saturday Night Fever" on the record player.  Apparently disco music soothed the savage toddler.  I also remember hearing Duran Duran, Wham!, Michael Jackson, and that 1984 Christmas single "Do They Know It's Christmas" playing from the record players of my siblings. 

By the time I was old enough to start buying my own music, records had all but disappeared (I seem to remember 1988 as being the last year I saw a record on sale).  Cassette tapes were the new way to listen to music as the 1980s closed out, and I do remember having a walkman and boombox to listen to some of my favourite tapes throughout my elementary and middle school years.  By the year 2000, however, cassette tapes became out of style, and people were getting irritated with their tape players turning their favourite Bananarama albums into lunch.

Interestingly enough, both the vinyl record and cassette tape are beginning to come back in style.  Music stores have been selling reissued vinyl records over the last decade, and sales for vinyl continue to rise.  And Eminem recently announced that he would be re-releasing one of his best-selling albums on cassette tape - the first time in well over a decade that an album released on cassette would hit store shelves!

Of course, one format of music is still holding on.  Sure, it's stumbled a little bit since the invention of the iPod back in 2001, and yes, it's true that many stores have shrunk or gotten rid of their selections of these once popular items.  But let's face it.  With these little inventions being used to release music, videos, computer games, and even security cameras, it's safe to say that the compact disc is far from going extinct.

Now, compact discs are no stranger to the marketplace.  Introduced to the general public in the mid-1980s, compact discs were the most common form of purchasing music by 1994, and reached their peak just ten years later.  But did you know that a few years prior to being able to purchase George Michael's "Faith" on compact disc that the electronics company known as Philips demonstrated how a compact disc worked?

In fact, the date they chose to hold this demonstration was exactly thirty-seven years ago today - on March 8, 1979.

Of course, everyone knows how a compact disc works.  A series of laser beams shines down onto the disc which has a series of songs encrypted on the disc surface.  The position of the laser beams determines what song will play.  It was the format that lead to the laserdisc technology (which crashed and burned in the 1990s), but also lead to the creation of the DVD (which since 1998 has become one of the many ways you can watch digital media).

American inventor James T. Russell was the man behind the creation of the compact disc, and had filed a patent application for the device as early as 1966!  By 1970, he had been granted the patent for the compact disc, but it would not be until the end of the 1970s before he felt comfortable enough to show the world his creation.

Initially, the compact disc started out looking nothing like how we see them today.  The old design used analog optical audio discs that were twenty centimetres wide (standard size is 120 MILLIMETRES), and boasted a sound quality better than any vinyl record could play.  But because the sound quality of the analog disc wasn't quite up to par, it was suggested that the disc follow a digital standard instead.

Philips publicly displayed the prototype of an optical digital audio disc at a press conference held thirty-seven years ago, and while there was initially a little bit of skepticism regarding the new technology, Philips teamed up with Sony to bring compact discs to the mainstream market, in which they had succeeded by the year 1982.

By the way, did you know that the very first album to be released on compact disc format was Billy Joel's "52nd Street" in October 1982?  Mind you, this release was only in Japan, but it is still significant.  And in 1985, the first group to sell one million compact discs was the group Dire Straits with their album "Brothers in Arms".

And to think...if not for that press conference held thirty-seven years ago today, we may still be listening to music on cassettes.

Or records.

Or even...8-track tapes!

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