Geek Trivia

A 1980s Urban Legend Claimed CD Sound Improved By Coating The Edges With What?

Silver Paint
Clear Nail Polish
Green Marker
What Was The First SPAM Email About?

Answer: Green Marker

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a potentially harmful and entirely ineffective technique for improving the sound quality of compact discs was making the rounds in a fashion befitting any well-told urban legend.

The specific claim was that carefully marking the inner and outer edges of a compact disc with a green marker would radically boost the quality of the music on the disc. But what mechanism, you might ask, did proponents of the technique claim produced the improvement? The claim was that marking the edges of the disc prevented stray laser light from escaping or entering the disc and improved the playback of the album contained therein.

The only problem with this logic, as anyone with a cursory knowledge of how digital discs are encoded would immediately see, is that the laser either reads the disc or it doesn’t. There is no need to modify the disc to absorb or reflect additional laser light.

Furthermore, the chemicals in a permanent marking pen can potentially damage the lacquer on the compact disc, exposing the thin sheet of aluminum encased within the plastic to oxidation—the big ol’ Sharpie seen here is best suited for writing on the label space of a burned CD, not slathering the edges of the disc. Ultimately, marking the disc up has absolutely no chance of improving the quality of playback, but does have the potential to ruin the disc.

Image courtesy of Sharpie.