1986: Manufacturers struggle to meet demand for compact discs

Posted at 5:00 AM, Dec 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-09 08:15:20-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Empty store shelves are a common sight these days thanks to supply chain disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s hardly the first time manufactures have struggled to meet consumer demand.

Compact discs were the must-have item in 1986 and manufacturers couldn't keep up with demand. Even radio stations struggled to get compact discs including local, rock station WFBQ, which was one of the first area stations to use the new format.

“We would play 100% CD if we had it,” said Q95 Disc Jockey Jay Baker.

The supply shortage then could be traced to a lack of manufacturers. At one time, all compact discs manufactured in the U.S. came from just one Sony plant located in Terre Haute.

Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" album was the first commercially produced CD pressed at the plant in September 1984.

Disc production grew from 300,000 discs in 1984 to more than 3 million in 1986.

Former Channel 6 Reporter Gerry Dick took an in-depth look at the compact disc frenzy in this report on December 17, 1986.

As CDs began to replace vinyl as the preferred way to listen to music, Dick set out to see if listeners could tell the difference between a vinyl album and a compact disc.

Dick played a sample from John Cougar Mellencamp's Scarecrow album and asked listeners to determine if the music being played was on vinyl or compact disc.

Dick found 7 out of 10 listeners could tell the difference, with most participants preferring the clarity of the compact disc.