History of Sound

  • Period: to

    Acoustic Era

  • The Phonautograph

    The Phonautograph
    In 1857, Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville invented the phonautograph, the first device that could record sound waves as they passed through the air. It was intended only for visual study of the recording and could not play back the sound. The recording medium was a sheet of soot-coated paper wrapped around a rotating cylinder carried on a threaded rod. A stylus, attached to a diaphragm through a series of levers, traced a line through the soot.
  • Reversing the Process

    In the spring of 1877 another inventor, Charles Cros, suggested that the process could be reversed by using photoengraving to convert the traced line into a groove that would guide the stylus, causing the original stylus vibrations to be recreated, passed on to the linked diaphragm, and sent back into the air as sound. An invention from America soon eclipsed this idea, and it was not until 1887 that yet another inventor phonautograph recording into metal.
  • Charles Batchelor and John Kruesi

    It was the month of December, 1877 when Charles Batchelor and John Kruesi worked in the Thomas Edison laboratory to complete the first working tinfoil phonograph. This phonograph had the capability to both play and record. The phonograph contained a cylinder with a sheet of tinfoil wrapped around it. The cylinder was turned by a hand crank. Sound was received through a funnel, which was connected to a diaphragm.
  • Phonograph

    Phonograph
    The phonograph expanded on the principles of the phonautograph.Perfected by Thomas Edison in 1878, the phonograph was a device with a cylinder covered with an impressionable material such as tin foil, lead, or wax on which a stylus etched grooves.The depth of the grooves made by the stylus corresponded to change in air pressure created by the original sound.The recording could be played back by tracing a needle through the groove and amplifying, through mechanical means, the resulting vibration.
  • Experimental Disc Phonograph

    Edison built a a spring motor and an experimental disc phonograph. He obtained a British patent for it but he was sure that the cylinder method was better. It would not be until 1913 that he turned from the cylinders to flat discs for recording.
  • English Patents

    The English patents Thomas Edison obtained for his phonograph had now expired, leaving the opportunity open for world inventors who thought they could make a better talking machine.
  • Volta Laboratory Patents

    Alexander Graham Bell, Chichester Bell, and Charles Tainter of the Volta laboratory obtained several patents for a commercial talking machine called a graphaphone. The graphaphone was based on Edison\'s phonograph. The stylus for the graphaphone was more of a cutting tool and the tinfoil was replaced with more durable wax cylinders.
  • Eddison Perfected the Phonograph

    In the summer of 1888 Thomas Edison announced that he had perfected the phonograph. This new model now came in a wooden box and was powered by an electric motor. It used a wax cylinder like with the graphophone but now there was a shaft to hold the cylinder.
  • Gramophone

    Emile Berliner and Werner Suess introduced their much improved gramophone. A large horn was connected to the diaphragm. This was counterbalanced and had an arm that glided across the disc. In just a few years this disc model evolved to include a new hand crank that used two small wheels and a cross belt, the cranking produced a smooth and consistent action to the turntable.
  • Marketing Potential of Duplicating Master Recording

    Emile Berliner realized the need and business potential of inventing a process that could inexpensively duplicate master recordings. Berliner recorded onto a zinc disc covered with a film of fat. Applying acid etched the grooves made in the fat onto the metal disc. The disc was then electroplated in copper to make a mold.
  • National Phonograph

    Thomas Edison set up the National Phonograph Company.
    Eldridge Johnson created a smooth running quiet spring motor for the Berliner Gramophone Company.
  • Magnetic Recording

    Magnetic recording was demonstrated in principle as early as 1898 by Valdemar Poulsen in his telegraphone. Magnetic wire recording, and its successor, magnetic tape recording, involve the use of a magnetizable medium which moves with a constant speed past a recording head. An electrical signal, which is analogous to the sound that is to be recorded, is fed to the recording head, inducing a pattern of magnetization similar to the signal. a play back picks up the changes in the magnetic field.
  • New Recording Meduims

    Thomas Lambert obtained a patent on the use of celluloid as a recording medium. Celluloid was one of the very first forms of plastic. It was rigid, but far from unbreakable as Columbia and the Indestructible Record Company claimed. This surface allowed for more frequencies to be recorded.
  • How Celluliod was Used

    Celluloid was being used in England to make the Neophone disc which came in sizes as large as 22 inches in diameter.
    Discs pressed using shellac were created by Pathe in Europe. The Pathe disc had wide grooves and were played using a large blue sapphire stylus. The playing groove started at the center and spiraled outward. Both of these discs had problems because of warping.
  • Birth of the Sound Recording Manufactures

    The U.S. reported eighteen sound recording manufactures with a total value of more then $27,000,000.
  • Sounds of the World War

    William Gaisber recorded the sounds of World War. From the front lines he captured the sounds of artillery and exploding gas bombs bringing to light a new way of preserving history.
    There were now 166 recorded sound companies competing.
  • Film Recording

    In 1923 Lee de Forest applied for a patent to record to film he also made a number of short experimental films, mostly of vaudeville performers. William Fox began releasing sound-on-film newsreels, in 1926, the same year that Warner Brothers released Don Juan with music and sound effects recorded on discs, as well as a series of short films with fully synchronized sound on discs.
  • Start of the Electrical Era

    Henry Stroller and Harry Pfannenstiehl worked on synchronizing recorded sound with movie playback. This system used two electric motors one for the record player and one for the film projector. The sound was recorded onto 16 inch discs called platers.Lee De Frost introduced his sound-on-film process, The De Frost Phonofilm. His system took the sound waves and turned them into electrical impulses, then into light. The light was photographed onto the film. On playback, the photoelectric cell w
  • Movies with Sound

    In 1927, the sound film The Jazz Singer was released; while not the first sound film, it made a tremendous hit and made the public and the film industry realize that sound film was more than a mere novelty.
  • Period: to

    Electrical Era

  • Magnetic Tape Receording

    Magnetic Tape Receording
    Engineers at AEG, working with the chemical giant IG Farben, created the world's first practical magnetic tape recorder, the 'K1', which was first demonstrated in 1935. During World War II, an engineer at the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft discovered the AC biasing technique. With this technique, an inaudible high-frequency signal, typically in the range of 50 to 150 kH.
  • Continuation of Mutlitrack recording

    2-track recording was rapidly adopted for modern music in the 1950s because it enabled signals from two or more separate microphones to be recorded simultaneously, enabling stereophonic recordings to be made and edited conveniently. (The first stereo recordings, on disks, had been made in the 1930s, but were never issued commercially.) Stereo (either true, two-microphone stereo or multimixed) quickly became the norm for commercial classical recordings and radio broadcasts.
  • Disk Reproductin Equipment

    By the late 1960s, disk reproducing equipment became so good that audiophiles soon became aware that some of the noise audible on recordings was not surface noise or deficiencies in their equipment, but reproduced tape hiss. A few specialist companies started making "direct to disk" specialty recordings, made by feeding microphone signals directly to a disk cutter (after amplification and mixing), in essence reverting to the pre-War direct method of recording.
  • 4-Track

    The next important development was 4-track recording. The advent of this improved system gave recording engineers and musicians vastly greater flexibility for recording and overdubbing, and 4-track was the studio standard for most of the later 1960s.
  • Tape Cassettes

    Tape Cassettes
    By the late 1960s, disk reproducing equipment became so good that audiophiles soon became aware that some of the noise audible on recordings was not surface noise or deficiencies in their equipment, but reproduced tape hiss. A few specialist companies started making "direct to disk" specialty recordings, made by feeding microphone signals directly to a disk cutter (after amplification and mixing), essence reverting to the pre-War direct method of recording.
  • Introduction of the Compact Cassette Tape

    The Philips Company introduced the compact cassette tape cartridge although it did not take hold until five years later. The larger eight tack tape cartridge would be popular first.
  • Birth of the Cassette Player

    The first tape cassette player available in the U.S. was a portable model made by the Norelco Company, the Carry Corder
  • Portable Cassette Player

    The first tape cassette player available in the U.S. was a portable model made by the Norelco Company, the Carry Corder
  • Advances in Solid State Electronics

    Advances in Solid State Electronics
    advances in solid-state electronics made the design and marketing of more sophisticated analog circuitry economically feasible. This led to a number of attempts to reduce tape hiss through the use of various forms of volume compression and expansion, the most notable and commercially successful being several systems developed by Dolby Laboratories.
  • Ray Dolby Systems

    The new Ray Dolby system now greatly reduced unwanted background sound on the cassette tape.
  • Music Options

    Record companies now offered their prerecorded music on both cassette tape and disc.
  • Digital Recording

    Digital Recording
    The first digital audio recorders were reel-to-reel decks introduced by companies such as Denon (1972), Soundstream (1979) and Mitsubishi. They used a digital technology known as PCM recording. Within a few years, however, many studios were using devices that encoded the digital audio data into a standard video signal, which was then recorded on a U-matic or other videotape recorder, using the rotating-head technology that was standard for video.
  • D.A.D

    Philips was working on a digital audio disc playback system, DAD. Working with Philips, Sony developed an improved method of encoding digital sound.The PCM chip was also used.Their combined work led to the creation of the CD.
  • Walkman Cassette Player

    Sony introduced the Walkman cassette player. This player was called the Walkabout. It was a very small battery powered player with little headphones. Other major companies followed Sony into the small personal cassette player market. In the next six years, the Walkman would be much improved upon. The small personal cassette players sold by the millions.
  • The Beginning

    Experimenting with digital sound started many years before the digital era began. Samuel Morse created a system of open and closed electrical circuits which sent dots and dashes. In 1926, Pulse Coded Modulation, PCM, was first patented by P. M. Rainey of Western Electric.
  • Period: to

    Digital Recording

  • Digital Recording

    Digital Recording
    digital recording methods were introduced, and analog tape recording was gradually displaced, although it has not disappeared by any means. (Many professional studios, particularly those catering to big-budget clients, use analog recorders for multitracking and/or mixdown.) Digital audio tape never became important as a consumer recording medium partially due to legal complications arising from piracy fears on the part of the record companies.
  • Digital Recording Problems

    A similar technology was used for a consumer format, Digital Audio Tape (DAT) which used rotating heads on a narrow tape contained in a cassette. DAT records at sampling rates of 48 kHz or 44.1 kHz, the latter being the same rate used on compact discs. Bit depth is 16 bits, also the same as compact discs. DAT was a failure in the consumer-audio field (too expensive, too finicky.
  • Marketing the CD

    The commercial sale of the new standard CD was introduced.
  • Sound Synthesizers

    Ray Kurzweil and Robert Moog produced a synthesizer that could recreate almost any sound electronically. This was a musician\'s dream. It was very expensive until Japanese manufactures created less expensive models. A Yamaha DX7 was available for $2000.
  • New CD Marketing High

    The compact disc sold slowly. In 1988 CDs finally out sold vinyl records. The cassette tape was still the top seller.
  • Mp3's

    Mp3's
    Digital sound files can be stored on any computer storage medium. The development of the MP3 audio file format, and legal issues involved in copying such files, has driven most of the innovation in music distribution since their introduction in the late 1990s.
  • Low Prices Multi-track Recording

    In the early 1990s, relatively low-priced multitrack digital recorders were introduced for use in home studios; they returned to recording on videotape.
  • Sonys Avancement in Sound Technology

    Sony made DAT, Digital Audio Tape, available to the American public.The Data Discman, a palm sized unit that could play back sound and images, was created.
  • ADAT Machine

    Developed by Alesis and first released in 1991, the ADAT machine is capable of recording 8 tracks of digital audio onto a single S-VHS video cassette. The ADAT machine is still a very common fixture in professional and home studios around the world.
  • Disk Recording

    Disk Recording
    As hard disk capacities and computer CPU speeds increased at the end of the 1990s, hard disk recording became more popular. As of early 2005 hard disk recording takes two forms. One is the use of standard desktop or laptop computers, with adapters for encoding audio into two or many tracks of digital audio.
  • Beatles and Multitrack recording

    All of the Beatles classic mid-1960s recordings, including the albums Revolver and Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, were recorded in this way. There were limitations, however, because of the build-up of noise during the bouncing-down process, and the Abbey Road engineers are still famed for their ability to create dense multitrack recordings while keeping background noise to a minimum.
  • Eight Track Stereo Tapes

    The Lear Jet Company created an eight track stereo tape cartridge with continuous looping tape. The Motorola Company manufactured them. The Ford Motor Company offered these as an option in their luxury cars. The RCA Company offered the prerecorded eight track tapes to consumers.