James T. Russell and the Invention of the Compact Disc Essay

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James T. Russell and the Invention of the Compact Disc

James Russell was born in Bremerton, Washington in 1931. His first invention, at six years old, was a remote-control battleship with a storage chamber for his lunch. In 1953, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in physics and graduated from Reed College in Portland. Afterwards he went to work as a Physicist in General Electric's nearby labs in Richland, Washington. There he started many experimental instrumentation projects. He was one of the first to use a color TV screen and keyboard with a computer. He designed and built the first electron beam welder.

When the Bettelle Memorial Institute opened its Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Richland,
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He knew that if you could represent the binary 0 and 1 with dark and light, then a device could be produced that is able to read sounds or any other information without wearing it out and if he could make the binary compact enough he could store a bunch on a small piece of film.

Bettelle let him pursue his project and in 1970, after years of work, he succeeded in inventing the first digital-to-optical recording and playback system, the CD.

A CD is a simple round piece of plastic about 4/100ths of an inch thick, and 12 centimeters in diameter used for electronic recording, storing, and playback. Most of a CD consists of an injection-moulded piece of clear polycarbonate plastic. During manufacturing, this plastic

is impressed with microscopic bumps arranged as a single, continuous, extremely long spiral track of data circling from the inside of the disc to the outside. Once the clear piece of polycarbonate is formed, a thin, reflective aluminum layer is put onto the disc, covering the bumps. Then a thin acrylic layer is sprayed over the aluminum to protect it, and the CD label is printed onto the acrylic. The compact disc was first used for audio storage only, but are now used to store audio, video, text, and any other information in digital form, and are able to hold 783 megabytes in all.

The CD works, because binary information is

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