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Gizmodo’s Wackiest Gadgets of 2002

DataPlay: The futuristic optical disc format that time forgot

In the early 2000s, there were serious efforts to find the next technological breakthrough that would succeed the CD. One of those was the DataPlay, a miniaturized version of a CD with a 32mm diameter. Why use DataPlay instead of CD? For one, it could store more than just music—artist interviews, music videos, and pre-recorded songs could be accessed when connected to a PC. It was also adorable tiny, or as The New York Times put it, “about the size of the ing in the center of a CD.”

After winning the CES Best of Show award in 2001, the DataPlay was released in 2002 and was quickly backed by artists and recording studios due to its strict digital rights management system. Britney Spears’ album Britney and re-releases from ‘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 all-but-forgotten format. It was too expensive, forced owners to purchase new music players, and locked down content in a way customers weren’t used to at the time. It also arrived during the growth of digital media.

Gizmodo had a feeling DataPlay wouldn’t be successful:

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

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