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Gizmodo’s Wackiest Gadgets of 2002


DataPlay: the futuristic optical disc format that time forgot

In the early 2000s, serious efforts were made to find the next technological breakthrough to succeed the CD. One of them was the DataPlay, a miniaturized version of a CD with a diameter of 32mm. Why use DataPlay instead of CDs? For one thing, it could store more than music – artist interviews, music videos and pre-recorded songs could be viewed when connected to a PC. It was also adorable tiny, or like The New York Times Put it, “about the size of the center ing of a CD.”

After winning the CES Best of Show award in 2001, the DataPlay was released in 2002 and quickly gained support from artists and recording studios due to its strict digital rights management system. Britney Spears album Britney and reissues of ‘N Sync, Pink, Usher, OutKast, Sarah McLachlan and Brooks & Dunn were included in the first batch of DataPlay discs.

In the end, DataPlay failed and is now an almost forgotten format. It was too expensive, required owners to buy new music players, and locked down content in a way that customers weren’t used to at the time. It also happened during the growth of digital media.

Gizmodo had a DataPlay feeling would not succeed:

Let’s see, they’ll cost more than CDs, be hard to copy, sound pretty much like CDs, and require a whole new player (only one of which is available, the iRiver IDP-100, pictured right). Sure to be a huge hit.