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Our archives are always good for a laugh, whether its frightening carnival rides or bizarre DIY dodecahedral meditation chambers. But with an oeuvre spanning three centuries, the archives are also a great resource to track scientific development, or look back at the legacy of a genius. This week, we trace the history of recording technology from Thomas Edison to Apple.
Edison’s phonograph, which came about as a happy accident, paved the way for the entire field of recording technology – recordings on thread, ungrooved records for home recording and a whole slew of magnetic wire recorders, initially used during World War II and eventually adopted by civilians.
Several attempts were made to improve the record player, from making it wireless and broadcastable through a radio, to developing hi-fi systems, to installing an in-car record changer that could play up to 14 records with minimal skipping, before cassettes and then CDs took over. Between CDs and iPods, we were treated to the Mini Disc (pictured above), Sony’s attempt to miniaturize CDs and make the players more portable.
And finally, after loading MP3 after MP3 onto their iPods, people became nostalgic for vinyl. Follow the development of recording tech in our gallery.
It Begins With the Invention of the Phonograph: August 1878
Talking Cellulose Thread: December 1922
Home Recording of Radio Programs: February 1931
The Camera of Sound: January 1946
Wireless Record Players: March 1946
The Two Types of Continuous Strip Recorders: April 1947
Hi-Fi, Explained: March 1957
The First In-Car Disc Player: October 1963
PopSci Tests Your Home Record Player: February 1968
Demystifying Tape Systems: Februrary 1969
The Dawn of the Compact Disc: November 1983
Sony Mini Disc: August 1991
The Gamechanger: January 2002
Full Circle – Ripping Records to an iPod: November 2005