Most people don’t know the inspiration behind the length of audio on CDs, and the answer is quite interesting. A standard CD is able to hold 74 minutes of audio – a rather unique block of time. It is said that the amount of time for audio on a CD was decided in 1980 by Sony and Philips, but the inspiration behind their decision lies with, uniquely enough, Ludwig Van Beethoven. Beethoven’s seminal Ninth Symphony was the subject of discussion when it came to the CD’s length and was believed essential that entire piece be able to play on the disk, (the longest recording of the piece being 74 minutes long).
Although there are many versions of this story, the most popular by far is the idea that the President of Sony, Norio Ohga, at the time made the decision to fit the Ninth Symphony on the CD simply because it was his favorite. There are other versions of the story that claim it was actually his wife’s favorite. Regardless which version is true, the one thing that’s clear is Beethoven’s impact. Although the invention of the CD was way beyond his time, Beethoven’s work was vital in one of the most iconic inventions in the music industry!