A major complaint of record stores in the early 80s was the cost of installing new shelving to display this new thing called the “compact disc.” After investing in displays for LPs, 45s, 8-tracks, and cassettes, the last thing they wanted to do was build another type of shelving for CDs. This is where the longbox comes in.
CDs come in cases roughly 6 inches by 6 inches or half the width of an album. “What if,” said the labels, “we put this 6 by 6 CD in a box that was twelve inches long? That way, you retailers could place two CDs side-by-side in the same-sized bin that held LPs?”
And so the longbox was born.
This packaging lasted for a few years before music fans got real angry at the environmental impact of all this waste, especially the full plastic ones. They were also almost impossible to open—and when you did, you could cut yourself on the sharp plastic.
Longboxes were eventually phased out and new bespoke display shelving for CDs was brought in.
Part one of the story can be found here.