Longbox editions of Van Halen‘s CDs have become rare and expensive collectors items over the past quarter century. The band’s first nine albums were released in the long-forgotten format, and well-preserved copies are now sold for hundreds of dollars on eBay.
Cardboard longboxes were a foot tall and almost 6 inches wide, and created to help record stores transition from vinyl records to compact discs. The jewel boxes that hold CDs are less than five inches tall and couldn’t be seen if placed in a bin designed to hold LPs. But two longboxes side by side fit just right in the space created for a vinyl record.
Retailers also used longboxes to make it harder to steal the nearly pocket-sized compact disc. But protests over the environmental cost of using that much paper on packaging that most consumers would immediately throw away led to the longbox’s demise in 1993. They were soon replaced by “keepers,” reusable plastic holders that needed to unlocked with a special key at the counter.
You can see front and back photos of 10 Van Halen albums below. We’ve also included several from singer Sammy Hagar‘s days in Montrose and as a solo artist – including 1987’s I Never Said Goodbye, which featured Eddie Van Halen on bass.