Bet you didn't know Jim Russell '53 pioneered compact disc technology
If not for two long-dead men named Beethoven and Bach, we all might still live without the tiny mirrorlike discs that store books and movies in rows of 1s and 0s. It was their music that James T. Russell '53 first tried to preserve in an inexpensive digital format. More than 30 years later, Russell has gained little recognition for his hand in the birth of the CD-the optical disk that is probably the most ubiquitous way to store just about everything.
The CD and the CD-ROM popularized a digital worldview in which pictures, text, and music can be expressed as a long series of binary code. Analog recordings capture sound vibrations in a textured groove; digital recordings calculate it, stamping out a long syllogism. Today we can reproduce information not only in rough miniature, but as a series of binary bits. Russell saw how these billions of bits-the ones used by digital supercomputers-could leap from the laboratory into the living room.