So one time back about 25 years or so ago I was reading in some music magazine and the guy who wrote this particular article said that you should save your CD boxes because technology was moving so fast that CDs themselves would be gone in a short time (he was probably a big fan of DAT) and the display boxes would become collector's items. Well the CD is still around. The boxes aren't, but if they ever became collector's items I must have missed the note. Anyway I still have some. I began keeping them as soon as I read that, and it wasn't very long after that that CDs began being sold in those plastic frames that the clerk at the store unlocked when you bought one. Here are a few to begin another series of irrelevant posts. Click on all images to enlarge.
The most basic box was only made to hold the CD and for nothing else: no artwork at all, not even anything to identify the CD that was in it except printed information on the end flap so the music company could use the same box design for multiple artists and albums. You can't see it in the picture, but this one was for Lionheart by Kate Bush. The "window" at the top of the box was for the CD, so all of the visuals of this box were provided by the CD jewel box itself. (These are not the best scans, but I didn't see much point in trying to get them perfect; also they've all been squished a little by being stacked in this box for years).
A slightly more ornate version of the paper CD display box, with reproductions of the front and back covers (CD-sized) on the front and back of the box. This one was for The Dreaming, also by Kate Bush.
Still more ornate is this one for Security by Peter Gabriel. The original album artwork has been adapted to the long rectangular form of the CD box, the back even including some liner notes and for some reason that now seems quite irrelevant, a picture of the actual CD itself.
For this box from Todd Rundgren's Nearly Human, released 1989--several years later than any of the former--we see something new. All the former albums were originally released on vinyl and required a re-thinking of how to display the original cover graphics on the very differently-shaped canvas of the CD box. This album was released both on CD and vinyl as a new release; the back of the box includes a photo of the working musicians that would have been so small as to be meaningless on the back of a CD jewel box.
Why use all that paper to make such a large box for such a small item? I have a theory but I must admit it is only a theory. Now, I don't know all the technical background that went into making the CD itself the size that it is, but if you lay two CDs side by side on top of a record jacket you will see that they take up about the same width as a record. The depth of the CD enclosure is mostly irrelevant; it meant that you could cram only about half as many albums into a pre-existing retail rack, but being able to put two albums side by side in the same space that once could hold only one canceled out that limitation on storage space. The paper CD display box is the same height as a record jacket, which meant that thousands of record stores filled with millions of record racks would still be able to use their old racks for the new medium.
More to come.