Several folks were curious about a question the Trivia Tart asked during the Feb. 25 trivia contest. The question was “What was the first CD manufactured in the U.S.?” Some thought her answer contradicted a similar question I had asked several weeks ago. It didn’t. The Trivia Tart was correct and here’s why.

Asking a trivia question about the first anything can be challenging. There are cases were several parties have a legitimate claim of “first” status in seemingly identical fields. That’s the case with both CD questions asked by the Tart and me. My question was “What was the first commercially released CD?” On first hearing, both questions appear to be the same, especially if a few pints of Guinness have been consumed. They are not, therefore each has a different answer. 

For the record, here are some CD firsts:

  • First CD manufactured – “The Visitors” by ABBA was manufactured near Hanover, Germany beginning Aug. 17, 1982. However it was not released until November 1982.
  • First commercially-released CD – “52nd Street” by Billy Joel on Oct 1. 1982 in Japan.
  • First CD manufactured in the U.S. – “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen was manufactured in Terre Haute, Ind., in September 1984.
  • First artist to sell 1 million CDs – In 1985, Dire Straits surpassed the 1 million milestone with “Brothers in Arms.”

I’ve tried to research these firsts as thoroughly as possible using reliable sources like the BBC, Wired magazine and the histories compiled by both Sony and Phillips. That said, I’m sure someone somewhere on the internets has an even more nuanced answer to these statements. Such is the risk in trying to define “Who’s first?”