In October 1982, the very first compact disc (as developed by Philips) rolled off the presses.
However, the first time the UK public clapped eyes on the shiny little five inch disc was on Tomorrow’s World, a year before the format’s launch, when Kieran Prendiville spread strawberry jam on a Bee Gees CD and told us all that it would still play. It didn’t. But, despite its aversion to fruit spread, it went on to become pretty much the most successful music format the world has ever seen.
To celebrate its birthday, the Official Charts Company have teamed up with the BPI to look at the 30 biggest selling CDs of the last 30 years. We invite you to explore our findings using the rather cool infographic below. It's interactive so you can click on an artist's name* to discover which albums of theirs feature in the Official All Time Top 30 CD Albums Chart, how many copies it sold and how many weeks it has spent in the Top 75. If you wish to view as a straight list, simply click on the right-hand tab at the top of the graphic.
Released in 1992, ABBA Gold has sold 4 million CDs, making it the format's all-time biggest seller. But hot on the heels is Adele's world-conquering 21. Released nearly 20 years after ABBA's compilation, Adele's 21 has clocked up a cool 3.5 million CD sales in the UK after only 18 months on sale, to become the biggest selling studio album ever.
At Number 3 is Oasis’ highly anticipated second album What’s The Story Morning Glory, released in 1995 at the height of their Britpop powers, with 3.4m CD sales. Only two artists have more than one title in the Top 30. Coldplay’s first three albums – Parachutes (Number 21), A Rush Of Blood To The Head (Number 13) and X&Y (Number 19) - all make the top 30, along with Robbie Williams whose three albums I’ve Been Expecting You, Sing When You’re Winning and Greatest Hits chart sequentially at 25, 26, and 27.
UK artists are especially well-represented in the chart, taking 21 of the Top 30 and no fewer than eight of the Top 10. Only four ‘best of’ compilations appear in the Top 30, explained in part by many top artists having more than one greatest hits compilation available in the market.
BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor says: "The CD represented a great leap forward in sound technology, becoming one of the most successful consumer products in history as music fans embraced its sound quality, durability, instant track access and ease of use. There are many music fans in the UK who want to own music and value a physical product they can collect.
The CD is a digital product that offers premium sound quality, artwork and lyrics - plus a permanent back up copy, all at a great price."
The CD is far from being a relic or historical artefact. Even 30 years after its launch, the CD still remains the leading album format in the British music market. Last year, 86 million CD albums were bought by music fans in the UK. Much maligned by many music consumer snobs, the CD may not be quite as big as it was in the format’s heyday, but it still remains hugely popular – a weekly treat for shoppers picking up their groceries in their local supermarket, and a gift for millions of parents, aunties, grandads and kids this Christmas.
*Please note that artists' total sales figures are based on their releases that appear in the Top 30 list only, not their career totals.