The very first Record was the phonograph and it was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison. While other inventors had produced devices that could record sounds, Edison’s phonograph was the first to be able to reproduce the recorded sound. His phonograph originally recorded sound onto a tinfoil sheet wrapped around a rotating cylinder.
And we have come such a long way since then. Although the record player has a very long history, conceptually, the record player has lived through many iterations – from the early phonograph to the turntable, and even up to the modern vinyl revival coinciding with the nostalgia boom, which comes from the resurgence in popularity of older forms of technology and media.
Let’s take a look at the music players throughout history:
In 1877 the first phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison. The phonograph was the first method of recording and playing back sound. This was Edison’s first great invention. The new invention gave Edison international fame. He toured the country with the phonograph and was even invited to the White House to demonstrate the invention to President Rutherfor B. Hayes in 1878.
The Phonograph was great at the time but it was only good for a one time only playback and the sound quality was terrible. 10 years after the Phonograph was invented Emile Berliner came up with the Gramophone. He was the first inventor to stop recording on cylinders and start recording on flat discs or records. The first records were made of glass. Later on they were made of zinc and eventually plastic. The records had a spiral groove etched into it with sound information that the “arm” of the gramophone, which held a needle, would run through while being hand-cranked and play the sound through the gramophone speaker. The record was the first sound recording that could be mass produced in 1900 which was perfected by Eldridge Johnson. Johnson and Berliner began working together shortly after the gramophone made it big and eventually created an easier way of listening to these new records. Johnson made a motor for the gramophone to keep it at a steady speed instead of hand-cranking the records.
In 1906 the Victrola model record player was introduced by RCA Victor. This record player had variable turntable speeds to accommodate the already wide range of records being produced at the time. Two years later Columbia Records introduced the first double-sided phonograph records. Finally, in 1912, cylinder recordings were a thing of the past and disc recordings were the hip thing to have. 12 years after the invention of the record made a hit, in 1924 things got a little more high-tech. Electrical records were now replacing the acoustic records of the past. In 1928 the standard speed for all phonograph records became 78.26rpm.
LP’s (Long Playing record) also known
as an “album” were invented in 1948. The 33 1/3 LP was released by Columbia Records. The preferred disc for singles became the large-hole 45rpm records by RCA Victor in 1949. The 45rpm record was 7″. In 1952 the Recording Industry Association of America was formed. There was the 33-1/3rpm LP, the 78rpm, and the 45rpm at 12″, 10″ and 7″. in 1955 the 12″ became more popular than the original 10″ LPs.
1963- Phillips develops a compact stereo cassette tape and player. The cassette tape became the most popular form of music media for several years. In the 70s it became possible to record your own music off of records or the radio onto a blank cassette tape. Cassettes brought something new to the world of music media in the 60s. You were now able to listen to music on the go. Portable cassette players were also released.
After the Cassette tape revolution – in the 1990’s it was like there was no more impossibilities and engineers tried to reinvent the portable music devices to the point where it’s less bulky user-friendly and this is where the “walkman” became more and more popular. If you were living in the 90’s then you were bound to have one of the as your most prized possession.
Compact Discs or CD’s were introduced in 1982 in Japan. The first CD released was Billy Joel’s “52nd Street”. One year later, in 1983, CD’s were released in the USA. It only took 3 years for CD’s to overtake LPs as the top selling music media in the United States. In 1999 Recordable CD’s became available.
The rise of the MP3 format
In the late 1990’s meant that music fans could collect and enjoy hundreds of digital tracks. But those tracks were chained to PC’s. The next logical step was to free MP3’s by putting them on some type of Sony Walkman-like device so that we could play them back wherever and whenever we wanted. The most annoying thing about this invention had to be the song capacity and the fact that you had to change the batteries too often.
Now between the 90’s and now there have been countless variations of the MP3 player like Ipod’s and much more, our smartphone hold most of our favorite music and we can even store our music in the cloud… With all the technology available at our fingertips, it’s hard to remember the struggles we had to go through to listen to our favorite song.
The Vinyl Revival
Although the benefits of digitized music and playback haven’t really diminished, people have recently started flocking back to turntables and manufacturers and artists have taken notice. In fact, the number of companies manufacturing turntables and components, such as tonearms, cartridges and phono stages, has never been higher.
The ever-growing demand for records has put pressure on companies to produce more record players and turntables, whether they’re building innovative machines or the retro styles of old.
Today we have a wide range of musical platforms and devices to listen to the old and the new generation music.
Many musicians are bringing out their new albums as vinyl records, CD’s and obviously digital to be downloaded. and this makes it so much easier for everyone to enjoy in whichever format they love.
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