Music Player Evolution – With Sony moving away from the Walkman cassette player today, I thought it would be nice to put together an infographic that represents part of the history of audio recording formats. In my generation, vinyl records and cassettes were the norm, though I remember my father’s love of reel to reel. However, there is much more history behind this… and how far we have come!
Phonographic cylinders were the first commercial means of recording and reproducing sound. The outer surface of the cylindrical objects was engraved with an audio recording that could be played when the cylinder was played back on a mechanical phonograph.
Music Player Evolution
A piano roll is a music storage device used to control a playing piano, pianola, or playback piano that consists of a roll of paper with perforations (holes) punched into it. The position and length of the perforations determine the note played on the piano. The roll travels over a device known as a “trocker bar”.
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A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph or vinyl record, is an analog sound storage device consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed modulated spiral groove. The groove starts near the periphery and ends near the center of the disk.
A form of audio tape recording in which the audio recording is stored on a reel that is then mounted on a spindle. The end of the ribbon is pulled out of the spool, threaded through the mechanical guides and the ribbon head assembly, and friction-attached to the hub of the second empty spool.
The Muntz Stereo-Pak, commonly known as the 4-track cartridge, is a magnetic tape audio recording technology. The car tape recorder that played Stereo-Pac cartridges was called the Autostereo, but was usually sold under the generic Stereo-Pac brand name.
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Compact cassette, often referred to as audio cassette or cassette tape, is a magnetic tape audio recording format originally developed for dictation but eventually supplanted stereo 8-track and reel-to-reel tape in most non-professional applications.
Stereo 8, commonly known as the eight-track cartridge, is a tape-based audio recording technology that was popular in the United States.
A compact disc (also known as a compact disc) is an optical disc used to store digital data. It was originally designed solely for storing sound recordings, but later it allowed other types of data to be stored as well.
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MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 Audio Layer 3, also known as MP3, is a digital audio encoding format that uses a form of lossy data compression. It is a common audio format for storing consumer audio files, as well as the de facto digital audio compression standard for transferring and playing music on digital audio players.
DVD, also known as Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc, is an optical disc storage media format that was invented and developed by Philips, Sony, Toshiba, and Time Warner. Its primary use is for video storage, and it is capable of storing almost seven times as much data as a CD.
Blu-ray Disc is an optical disc storage device designed to replace the DVD format. The format defines as standard physical media a 12 cm (same as DVD and CD), 25 GB per layer optical disc, being a dual layer disc (50 GB), which is the norm for full-length video discs, and adding more layers for music lovers In the 21st century, being able to hum the tune of your favorite song while it plays on headphones as well as on a crowded train is a given. If only they knew about the many problems with our portable music player, about its journey from a humble transistor to the latest modern iPod. The evolution of humanity will not be as interesting to us as the evolution of what is literally dear to our hearts!
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On the occasion of Players’ Day, celebrated by enthusiasts on October 1st, we bring you a brief history of the evolution of how we listen to our favorite music.
Our story begins in 1954, when the world’s first transistor was released to music lovers. Dubbed the “Regentency TR-1”, the device has found a place in kitchens, hallways and thousands of offices. In addition to broadcasting breaking news, the transistor will play melodies that music lovers might swoon over as they start their day. It was not uncommon to find young people with transistors glued to their ears (yes, that sounds wild now!), hoping to catch their favorite singer’s love tune while they waited to impress their sweetheart with their performance of the song. The next big thing in the transistor segment was the TR-55 from what we now call Sony. Released in 1955, the USP of this gadget was the portability it offered.
In 1976, the typical boombox entered the portable music player scene. Young hipsters roamed the streets of many Western countries, listening and dancing to their rock and roll tunes.
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The real revolution in the portable music player industry came in 1979 when Sony introduced its Walkman brand. The enticing device was released in the US for a not-so-attractive price of around $288. This. It was one of the first portable music players to use obsolete cassettes to store music. Look at anyone who lived through adolescence in the late 1970s and early 1980s and you will truly understand the revolution that the Walkman created.
Sony took the game up again with the “Sony Discman” which used CDs to play music. Although later generations of the Discman could only store an hour and a half of music, they were extremely popular.
The next big thing happened in the 2000s with the Apple iPod. The first generation of the iPod was released in 2001. The subsequent line of iPods was named “iPod shuffle”, “iPod nano”, “iPod touch” depending on their characteristic features. Other popular music players include Microsoft’s Zune line or Sony’s updated Walkman.
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Now that you know what a difficult path your favorite music player has come through, it’s time to give it more respect and celebrate its glory by putting together another playlist of fun songs!
I am a 21 year old psychology student, outdoor enthusiast and obsessed with my scooter. You could find me in college trying to deal with my existential crisis, hanging out with friends, driving around the streets of Mumbai. Nowadays, it is quite common to use a smartphone to listen to your favorite music. But it was not always so. I used to have to carry a bunch of cassettes and CDs with me. Or even worse: there was a time when you couldn’t even take music with you.
It had already begun in 1877. The gramophone, or better known as the turntable, was invented by Thomas Edison. With this powerful machine, people can enjoy music from the comfort of their living room. By simply placing a record under the needle, you can listen to your favorite tune. And surprisingly, the turntable is making a gloriious return thanks to vintage lovers.
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Problem: The gramophone is not very portable, huge and heavy. We needed a more portable alternative, so we made a cassette player. The tape recorder was known as the Walkman because you can listen to music on the go. When your tape runs out, you can simply flip it over to start over. However, you have seen people struggle with a broken tape. Meters and meters that went everywhere.
In 1980, the CD player, also known as the Discman, was born. A huge step forward compared to the tape recorder. However, there were still a couple of shortcomings. The device is not shockproof and there has always been a chance that your CD will get scratched. What’s more, the CD player isn’t even that portable and you have to lug a lot of CDs around with you.
The biggest evolution in the music industry came in 1990 with the MP3 player. For the first time, you can save your music on a small device without a physical copy. Remember when you could show off to people if you had half a gigabyte of space on your mp3 player? Fortunately: the amount of memory increases quickly and significantly. The MP3 player quickly became popular, especially the Apple iPod.
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Sales of MP3 players are falling, even despite the large feature set. Since 2008, you can play music through your smartphone. You can either save it on your phone like an MP3 player or stream it thanks to a wide range of streaming services.