How Music Technology Evolved Over the Years?

The Evolution of Music Technology


Have you ever wondered about the history of music technology? What was it? Where did it started? How did it worked? From analog to digital, music recording and sharing was diversified, and music formats and devices have improved a lot over the years.

In this article, we will go through the evolution of music technology, where it begin and what it is today.

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1877- Phonograph Cylinder


The Evolution of Music Technology

The first ever audio medium is the Phonograph cylinder used for recording and reproducing sound. This concave cylindrical object, commonly known as the “records” in the year 1896-1915, has an engraved audio recording that reproduces when played on a mechanical cylinder.

1883- Piano Roll


The Evolution of Music Technology

The Piano roll is the second music storage medium popularized in 1883 used in playing piano player and reproducing piano. This is made with a continuous roll of player with holes or perforations that represent the notes. The roll moves over a tracking bar, a reading system, that reads the note.

1895- Gramophone Records


Gramophone Records

Gramophone, commonly known as the vinyl record, became the primary technology used for music reproduction in the 1920’s next to phonograph cylinder. It is an analog sound storage with flat polyvinyl chloride disc and spiral groove that produces sound and plays music.

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1930- Reel-to-Reel


The Evolution of Music Technology

Also called as the open-reel audiotape recording, reel-to-reel is a recording medium made of magnetic audio tape contained in a feed reel instead on a cassette tape. The feed or supply reel is attached to a spindle that provides an accurate copy of an audio signal especially in using larger tapes.

1962- Muntz Stereo-Pak


The Evolution of Music Technology

Inspired by the Fidelipac track tape, Muntz Stereo-Pak magnetic tape sound recording cartridge or the Pak 4-Track Cartridge, was commercially used by broadcasters in 1959 for playing radio jingles. It has an infinite loop that crosses over the pressure pad for an accurate tape contact.

1963- Compact Cassette


The Evolution of Music Technology

Compact cassette was released by Philips in 1962 used for audio recording and playback. This music technology comes in two forms; one contains a pre-record while the other is a blank cassette. You can use it for different purposes such as home recording, portable radio or storage data. Compact Cassette has become the most popular music technology format in early 70’s and 20’s.
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1982- Compact Disc


The Evolution of Music Technology

Compact Disc, also known as CD, was initially developed to play and store audio recordings. It later adopted a data storage function feature similar to compact cassettes, which was called CD- ROM.  CD’s also became one of the leading digital optical disc data storage with a larger capacity than computer hard drives in 1982 and was used for recording songs and albums. Lo and behold, it sold over 200 billion copies by 2007 worldwide.

1987- Digital Audio Tape (DAT)


The Evolution of Music Technology

Sony introduced Digital Audio Tape in 1987 as a signal recording and playback technology designed similarly to a compact cassette. It can record digital waves with lower, equal, or higher rates compared to CD. The DAT assures fidelity on all digital copies unlike other similar media like MiniDisc and Digital Compact Cassette.

1993- MP3


The Evolution of Music Technology

MP3, also called MPEG-1 or MPEG 2 Audio Layer III, is a digital audio coding format with lossy data compression. It is the general consumer audio format storage for playback and transfer of music on most digital audio players. The lossy compression reduces the data size of the audio recording copy without damaging the sound fidelity.

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1997- DVD


The Evolution of Music Technology

The Digital Versatile Disc or DVD is an innovative digital optical disc storage developed by Sony, Philips, Panasonic, and Toshiba in 1995. It can accommodate almost all types of digital data format for all computer files, software, and video programs. Although it has a similar dimension with a compact disc, DVD has larger storage capacity.

2006- Blu-ray Disc


The Evolution of Music Technology

Another popular digital optical disc data storage format is the Blue-ray Disc that supersedes the DVD format for storing both high definition and ultra-high definition videos. The name w as inspired by the blue laser used in reading the disc that can store greater density information than DVD’s. Aside from music formats, Blu-ray disc can also store video formats and video games.

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The music technology has changed and improved over the years that made music streaming more convenient. As the world spins, new technological advancements are being introduced that are better than the earliest inventions.

We have the internet that provides easier access to music and portable speakers like the SpeakStick that offers limitless music streaming to everyone. These, for examples, are creating a buzz that you should not miss.

Which of these music formats have you used? Feel free to share your stories in the comment box below.

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1 comment

  • I have hundreds of the cylinders records made by Edison in the late 1800’s, made of brown wax but the first recording media was EdiSon’S tinfoil machine.

    Stephen Nicholson

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