THE '80s A Special Report :...

Compact Discs: They saved the music industry from bankruptcy. . . . They killed the independent record world. . . . They give old music new life. . . . Their crystalline sound makes music sterile. . . .

Those shiny five-inch discs got the credit and the blame for just about everything that happened in the music industry in the second half of the decade. The biggest impact was in cash flow, as a rapidly growing stream of yuppies got reacquainted with record buying, first gobbling up CDs of old faves and then creating a new market for the likes of Steve Winwood and Bruce Hornsby.

What in 1980 was just a gleam in an audio technician's eye and in 1985 little more than a hot novelty accounting for less than 9% of the recordings sold in the United States is today a foundation of the industry, pushing 40% of sales: Everybody buys CDs, and only a high price tag is keeping them from completely dominating the market. Requiescat in pace , dear beloved vinyl.

The Taste Makers project was edited by David Fox, assistant Sunday Calendar editor.

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