You may have heard that the compact disc is celebrating its 30th anniversary. In October 1982, Sony released the first CD player and the first commercially available CD, Billy Joel's 52nd Street.
In 1982 I was embarking on my first year of a well-paid and stimulating teaching career. As a 22-year-old, single and living with my parents, I had plenty of cash to splash on this new exciting technology.
The hype suggested that compact discs were more convenient, better sounding and indestructible compared with Long Play records. They also could hold more music for your buck. One LP was usually about 20 minutes each side whereas a compact disc was designed to be able to contain the whole of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - about 80 minutes.
Certainly they were more convenient - a smaller package, all the songs were on the same side and you could play them in any order. Did they sound better? The jury is still out on that. It was a cleaner sound with no crackles or hiss, but audiophiles to this day will swear blind that records are a ''warmer'' sound - whatever that means.
Fast-forward 18 years and I was a burnt-out teacher using the skills acquired from my time in the classroom in a new career in the field of student accommodation. As the new century rolled in, I was struggling with the impossible task of finding homestay accommodation for international students desperate to learn English quickly.
Every morning, after an hour travelling from west to east across Melbourne without the aid of a tunnel, I would sit down at my desk and be greeted with 50 email complaints: students complaining that their homestay was not with a ''traditional Australian family''; hosts complaining that their student expected to be waited on hand and foot; my supervisors complaining that I was behind schedule finding homes for their next intake of young non-English-speaking fee-payers. I was highly stressed, totally exhausted, and completely bored with my life.
At my lowest ebb I was debriefing one evening with my wife who was perusing her favourite tabloid - the now defunct Trading Post. ''What do you want to do when you grow up, then?'' I answered by describing a guy I had recently observed working in a record shop, lovingly putting a shiny disc of his choosing into the player, lost in his own world. ''I want to be that bloke.'' My wife turned over the paper and said, ''Well, have a look at this,'' pointing to an advertisement for a sheriff's auction that included ''many CDs''.
Next day at work I picked up the phone anticipating another complaint. It was my wife, ''Come outside. I want to show you something.'' She flipped open the boot of her car to reveal hundreds of CDs bound tightly together with sticky tape. ''I just couldn't stop bidding.'' Later at home we discovered that half the CDs were either scratched (so much for being indestructible) or missing from their cases.
From that day on, I started a new hobby. I became a regular patron of police and sheriff auctions, bidding for all the CDs that had been confiscated. It was great fun. I would take them home, brush off the fingerprint dust, and see what I had. Those I liked I would add to my collection. The excess I would sell at Camberwell market. Best of all I was making a profit! Then it occurred to me that if I could make a profit from my hobby, maybe with a bit of effort I could make a living giving new life to old CDs that had fallen by the wayside.
So happy birthday to the compact disc. You gave me a new life as well.
John Tait still sells second-hand CDs, records and books, and is a writer when not being interrupted by customers.
What is the first CD you ever bought? Tell us in the comments.