Japan Hasn't Given Up On The Mini-Disc Just Yet

Photo: Kuha455405

The Mini-Disc never caught on in the U.S. But during the 1990s, the format did in its native Japan, where MD isn’t yet dead.

Launching in 1991, MD was the coolest format. It was like a compact disc, but smaller (hence, Mini-Disc). Unlike CDs, it didn’t skip. You could also chuck Mini-Discs in your bag because MD was encased in plastic. According to a recent LiveDoor News article, the Mini-Disc peak in Japan was the year 2000.

The following year, the iPod launched.

The iPod didn’t take off initially in Japan (neither did the iPhone). When I arrived in Japan in 2001, I bought a Sony stereo with an MD deck. Sick of having CDs skip on my in college, I imported an MD player from Japan and made MD mix discs. It was awesome. It was also very 20th century.

When digital music began to dominate, MD faded away with its niche no longer needed. MDs were unable to match CD’s quality for tangible media—though, the gap has closed in more recent years.

While Sony stopped selling MD players in 2013, it continues to make blank MDs and support its Mini-Disc players. Teac is currently the only Japanese company making and selling MD players.

Screenshot: Teac

Though, MD’s days are numbered. Teac expects its Mini-Disc deck production to end in the next several years.


    I bought 2 of the Sony portables and I loved them. I still have them. Not sure if they still work but I reckon they would.

      Sony portable players were indestructible. I'm sure they would still work!

    I really wanted one back in 2002 when I was 17. I’d lust over the MD players in Sony’s Pulse product magazine deciding which one I want. Too bad Sony doesn’t publish Pulse anymore. It’s just not the same experience with their online shop.

    It was the better option IMO, no scratches, same size, compact.. I wish DVD and Bluray went this way also...

    Still have mine as well, I even had one in my car back about 15 years ago. They still are so cool.

    I missed that phase, but I'm tempted to get my hands on one of the Teac's just because it always intruiged me.

    Wow, now all I have to do is look at the reflective surface of a disk to think of the Jojo's Torture Dance

    I've got an old portable Sony MD player which I still bust out occasionally, and a largeish stereo with CD and MD built in which I still use regularly. I don't listen to the old MDs I made back in the day as much as I used to, but I still blast them out every so often. Mostly I just have a Bluetooth dongle plugged into its aux port which I tell my Google Home Mini to play music on.

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