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James Russell and the Invention of the Compact Disc

Uploaded by adaTude on Jan 20, 2002

James Russell was born in Bremerton, Washington in 1931. His first invention, at six years old, was a remote-control battleship with a storage chamber for his lunch. In 1953, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in physics and graduated from Reed College in Portland. Afterwards he went to work as a Physicist in General Electric’s nearby labs in Richland, Washington. There he started many experimental instrumentation projects. He was one of the first to use a color TV screen and keyboard with a computer. He designed and built the first electron beam welder.

When Bettelle Memorial Institute opened its Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Richland, Washington, James joined as a Senior Scientist. There he introduced his thinking about optical data storage, constructing prototypes of a digital-to-optical recording and playback system and dispersing information about the potential of this technology. He found more interest in this work outside of the company though, so he joined a firm and developed his ideas as vice president for research and member of the board. Here he designed the system architecture for an audio player and directed the development of the hardware and the storage media.

During this time, James listened to a lot of music and was always frustrated by the wear and tear of his phonograph records. He was also unsatisfied with their sound quality. So, one Saturday while he was home alone, he started sketching out a better music recording system.

James wanted a system that would record and replay songs without physical contact between its parts, and he saw the best way to do it would be by using light. He was familiar with digital data recording, in punch card or magnetic tape form. He knew that if you could represent the binary 0 and 1 with dark and light a device could read sounds or any other information without wearing it out and if he could make the binary compact enough he could store a bunch on a small piece of film.

Bettelle let him pursue his project and in 1970, after years of work, he succeeded in inventing the first digital-to-optical recording and playback system, the CD.

A CD is a simple round piece of plastic about 4/100ths of an inch thick, and 12 centimeters in diameter used for electronic recording, storing, and playback. Most of a CD consists of an injection-molded piece of clear polycarbonate plastic. During manufacturing, this plastic is...

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Uploaded by:   adaTude

Date:   01/20/2002

Category:   Science And Technology

Length:   5 pages (1,041 words)

Views:   3139

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