The Karajan story is a long-dismissed urban myth. In fact, if Philips and Sony had opted for 12" 
disk size (which would have allowed for LP style graphics and LP style packaging and probably would 
have been much better loved by us collectors), they could have had 2+ hours time per CD. They were 
operating on two ideas (right or wrong) -- 1) COMPACT DISC was the marketing mandate, meaning 
something more akin to a cassette than a "klunky" LP. 2) they had developed very reliable mechanisms 
to play 5" discs and reliably read them with vigorous error correction. The marketplace was already 
demonstrating that 10" laserdiscs were somewhat fragile and the players were somewhat finicky. There 
was also the factor that portability was king in the early 80s. Never underestimate the market 
earthquake that was the Sony Walkman! I grew up then. For people my age who were into music, that 
thing was the first coming of the iPhone. The only people I knew at college who did not own 
Walkman-type portable players were people who didn't listen to music except as background noise at 

Red Book standard of 74 minutes allowed for "close-off" guide bands on the inside and outside of 
early CDs, which are clearly visible in many cases. These proved unnecessary as manufacturing 
improved, particularly glass mastering and plating. There was also data space allowed for robust 
CDText, which was never used (and hence today we have the disorganized hodgepodge of auto-load tags, 
most of which need manual correcting if one wants a consistent naming structure in his digital 
library). The reason 80-minute CDs became the norm is that manufacturing improved to be able to fit 
them. Philips got its glass mastering and plating so good that it was known to make playable 
82-minute CDs for classical and opera. I don't know if Sony did this. Another example of a Philips 
CD longer than 80 minutes is one of the Bernstein/VPO Beethoven cycle discs on DGG, I forgot which 

Love 'em or hate 'em, CDs were a big deal, technologically, when they came out. CDRs and the quick 
evolution of home-copying was also a big deal.

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Paul Urbahns" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2014 10:13 AM
Subject: [ARSCLIST] CD time limit - Beethoven

> This site states:
> Karajan played an important role in the development of the original compact
> disc <> digital audio format. He
> championed this new consumer playback technology, lent his prestige to it
> and appeared at the first press conference announcing the format. The
> maximum playing time of CD prototypes was sixty minutes but the final
> specification enlarged the disc size and extended the capacity to
> seventy-four minutes. There are various stories regarding this, one of
> which is that this was due to Karajan's insistence that the format have
> sufficient capacity to contain Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
> <> on a single
> disc. Kees Schouhamer Immink
> <>, a Philips
> <> research engineer and fellow of
> the Audio
> Engineering Society <>,
> denies the Beethoven <> connection.
> Paul Urbahns
> Radcliff, Ky