The phonautograph is the
earliest known device for recording sound. Invented by Frenchman
Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, it was patented on March 25, 1857. It
transcribed sound waves as undulations or other deviations in a line
traced on smoke-blackened paper or glass. Only recently, through computer
computer-based image processing could these "sound pictures" be
converted into audible sound to reveal the earliest human voices to be
Alva Edison, working in his lab, succeeds in recovering "Mary's
from a strip of tinfoil wrapped around a spinning cylinder. He
demonstrates his invention in the offices of Scientific American,
and the phonograph is born.
first music is put on record : cornetist Jules Levy plays "Yankee
Adler, using carbon microphones and armature headphones, accidentally
produces a stereo effect when listeners outside the hall monitor adjacent
telephone lines linked to the stage of the Paris Opéra.
Berliner is granted a patent on a flat disc gramophone, making the
production of copies practical.
introduces an electric motor-driven phonograph.
achieves wireless radio transmission from Italy to America.
Poulsen patents his "Telegraphone", recording magnetically on
unveils his invention at the Paris Exposition. Austria's Emperor Franz
Josef records his congratulations.
Boston Symphony Hall opens with the benefit of Wallace Clement Sabine's
Victor Talking Machine Company is founded by Emile Berliner and Eldridge
Experimental optical recordings are made on motion picture film.
DeForest invents the triode vacuum tube, the first electronic signal
Caruso is heard in the first live broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera of
Edwin F. Armstrong is issued a patent for a regenerative circuit, making
radio reception practical.
first talking movie is demonstrated by Edison using his "Kinetophone"
process., a cylinder player mechanically synchronized to a film projector.
patent for the superheterodyne circuit is issued to Edwin Armstrong.
The Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPE) is formed. Today the SMPTE
is very active in the Motion Picture field.
Edison does live-versus-recorded demonstrations in Carnegie Hall in New
Scully disc recording lathe is introduced.
E.C. Wente of Bell Laboratories publishes a paper in Physical Review
describing a "uniformly sensitive instrument for the absolute
measurement of sound intensity" : the condenser microphone.
Radio Corporation of America (RCA) is founded. It is owned in part by
first commercial AM radio broadcast is made by KDKA, Pittsburgh, PA.
Laboratories develop a moving armature lateral cutting system for
electrical recording on disk. Concurrently they introduce the Orthophonic
Victrola "Credeza" model. This all-acoustic player, with no
electronics, is considered a leap forward in phonograph design.
The first electrically recorded 78 rpm disks appear.
RCA works on the development of ribbon microphones.
patents iron oxyde-coated paper tape.
Singer is released as the first commercial talking picture, using
Vitaphone sound on discs synchronized with film.
The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) is formed.
The Japan Victor Corporation (JVC) is formed as a subsidiary of the Victor
Talking Machine Co.
Harold Black At Bell Laboratories applies for a patent on the principle of
negative feedback. It was granted nine years later.
Dr Georg Neumann founds a company in Germany to manufacture his condenser
microphones. It's first product is the Model CMV 3.
Nyquist publishes the mathematical foundation for the sampling theorem
basic to all digital audio processing : the Nyquist theorem.
Blumlein, working for EMI in London, in effect patents stereo. His seminal
patent discusses the theory of stereo, both describing and picturing in
the course of its 70-odd individual claims a coincident crossed-eights
miking arrangement and a "45-45" stereo disc-cutting system.
Arthur Keller and associates at Bell Labs in New York experiment with
vertical-lateral stereo disk cutter.
first cardioid ribbon microphone is patented by Dr. Harry F. Olson of RCA,
using a field coil instead of a magnet.
recording on steel wire is developed commercially.
Snow, Fletcher and Steinberg at Bell Labs transmit the first inter-city
stereo audio program.
(Germany) exhibits its Magnetophon Model K-1 at the Berlin Radio
BASF prepares the first plastic-based magnetic tapes.
makes the first tape recording of a symphonic concert during a visit by
the touring London Philharmonic, with Sir Thomas conducting Mozart.
Von Braunmül and Weber apply for a patent on the cardioid condenser
B. Bauer of Shure Bros. engineers a single microphone element to produce a
cardioid pickup pattern called the Unidyne, Model 55. This later becomes
the basis for the well-known SM57 and SM58 microphones.
Under the direction of Dr. Harry Olson, Leslie J. Anderson designs the 44B
ribbon bidirectional for RCA.
RCA develops the first column loudspeaker array.
biasing of magnetic tape is accidentally discovered by German researchers
working with an unstable, oscillating record amplifier.
Independently, Marvin Camras working at Armour Research in the U.S.
develops AC bias for wire recorders.
Western Electric designs the first motional feed-back, vertical-cut disk
Major Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio, makes the first experimental FM
The first of many attempts is made to define the VU meter standard.
Disney's Fantasia is released with 8-tracks stereophonic sound.
FM broadcast begins in the U.S.
AEG adds AC bias to the record circuit of its Magnetophon.
Arthur Addy of English Decca devises the first motional feedback,
lateral-cut disk recording head, later used to cut their ffrr
RCA LC-1A loudspeaker is developed as a control-room monitor.
Dr Olson patents a single ribbon cardioid microphone (which later is
developed as the RCA 77D and -DX), and a phased-array directional
the first stereo tape recordings are made by Helmut Kruger at German Radio
develops their model 604 coaxial loudspeaker.
M. Poniatoff forms Ampex Corporation to make electric motors for the
Magnetophon tape recorders are sent back to the U.S. in multiple mailbags
by Army Signal Corps Sergeant John T. (Jack) Mullin.
manufactures wire recorders for the home market.
Brush buids a semiprofessional tape-recorder as their Model BK401
3M introduces Scotch No 100, a black oxide paper tape.
Jack Mullin demonstrates hi-fi tape recording with his reconstructed
Magnetophon at an IRE meeting in San Francisco.
Richard Ranger begins to manufacture his version of a Magnetophon.
Bing Crosby and his technical director Murdo McKenzie agree to audition
tape recorders brought by Jack Mullin and Richard Ranger. Mullin's is
preferred, and he is brought back to record Crosby's Philco radio show.
Ampex produces its first tape recorder, the model 200.
Major improvements are made in disk-cutting technology : the Presto ID,
Fairchild 542 and Cook Feedback cutters. The Williamson high-quality power
amplifier circuit is published. The first issue of Audio Engineering
is published. Its name is later shortened to Audio.
Audio Engineering Society (AES) is formed in New York City.
The microgroove 33 1/3 rpm long-play vinyl record (LP) is introduced by
Scotch types 111 and 112 acetate-base tapes are introduced.
Magnecord introduces its PT-6, the first tape recorder in portable cases.
introduces the microgroove 45 rpm, large hole, 7-inch record and
Ampex introduces its model 300 professional studio recorder.
Magnecord produces the first US-made stereo tape recorder, employing
half-track, staggered-head assemblies.
A novel amplifier design is described by McIntosh and Gow.
Paul modifies his Ampex 300 with an extra prevue head for sound-on-sound
IBM develops a commercial magnetic drum memory.
||The hot stylus
technique is introduced to disk recording.
An Ultra-Linear amplifier circuit is proposed by Hafler and Keroes.
Pultec introduces the first active program equalizer, the EQP-1.
The germanium transistor is developed at Bell Laboratories.
Baxandall publishes his (much-copied) tone control circuit.
||Ampex produces a
4 tracks, 35mm magnetic film system for 20th-Century Fox's Christmas
release of The Robe in Cinemascope and stereo sound.
Ampex introduces the first high-speed, reel to reel duplicator as its
Emory Cook presses experimental dual-band, left-right binaural discs.
introduces the lectro-mechanical reverberation plate.
Sony produces the first pocket transistor radios.
Ampex produces its model 600 portable tape recorder.
G.A. Briggs stages a live-versus-recorded demonstration in London's Royal
RCA introduces its polydirectional ribbon microphones, the 77DX.
Westrex introduces its model 2B motional feedback lateral-cut disk
The first commercial stereo tapes are released.
Sel-Sync (Selective Synchronous Recording), making audio overdubbing
||Les Paul makes
the first 8-tracks tape recordings using the Self-Sync method.
the first electronic music recording : Morton Subotnick's Silver Apples
of the moon.
Westrex demonstrates the first 45/45 stereo cutter head.
movie Forbidden Planet is released, with the first all-electronic
film score, composed by Louis and Bebe Barron.
Stefan Kudelski introduces the Nagra III battery-operated transistorized
field recorder, which its Neo-Pilot sync system becomes the de facto
standard of the film industry.
first commercial stereo disk recording appear.
EMI fails to renew the Blumlein stereo patent. Hello - anybody home ?
introduces the first 2-tracks, closed loop capstan-drive recorder, the
The FCC approves the FM stereo broadcast format.
Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) sets the
standard for the timecode format.
3M introduces Scotch 201/202 Dynarange, a black oxide low-noise mastering
tape with a 4 dB improvement in s/n ratio over Scotch 111.
introduces the Compact Cassette tape format and offers licences worldwide.
Gerhard Sessler and James West patent the electret microphone.
The Beach Boys contract Sunn Electronics to build the first large
full-range sound system for their rock music tour.
Dolby Type A noise reduction system is introduced.
Robert Moog shows elements of his early synthetizers.
Eltro (Germany) makes a pitch/tempo shifter, using a rotating head
assembly to sample a moving magnetic tape.
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass tour with a Harry McCune Custom Sound
C. Heiser devises an acoustical measurement scheme called Time Delay
Spectrometry, which paves the way for the revolutionary TEF technology.
Altec-Lansing introduces the concept of room equalization, utilizing
variable multiband filters.
The Monterey International Pop Festival becomes the first large rock music
The musical Hair opens on Broadway with a high-powered sound
The first operational amplifiers are used in professional audio equipment,
most notably as summing devices for multichannel consoles.
Thomas Stockham begins to experiment with digital tape recording.
Bill Hanley and Company design and build the sound and lighting system for
the Woodstock rock music festival.
3M introduces Scotch 206 and 207 magnetic tapes, with a s/n ratio 7 dB
better than Scotch 111.
first digital delay line, Lexicon's Delta-T 101, is introduced and becomes
widely used in soud reinforcement installations.
Ampex introduces 406 mastering tape.
demonstrates 18-bit PCM stereo recording using a helical-scan video
RMS and VCA modules are introduced by dbx.
and CBS are licensed by Peter Schreiber to produce quadraphonic decoders
using his patented matrixes.
A patent is issued to David Blackmer for a log-RMS detector.
patent is issued to Blackmer for a VCA with a log control voltage.
Keele pioneers the design of "constant-directivity"
The grateful Dead produces the "Wall of Sound" at the San
Francisco Cow Palace, which incorporates separate systems for vocals, each
of the guitars and for piano and drums.
3M introduces Scotch 250 mastering tape with an increase in output level
of over 10 dB compared to Scotch 111.
DuPont introduces chromium dioxide cassette tape (CrO2).
A patent is issued to Blackmer for a feed-forward compressor design.
tape recording begins to take hold in professional audio studios.
Michael Gerzon conceives of and Calrec (England) builds the Soundfield
Microphone, a coincident 4-capsule cluster with matrixed
"B-format" ouptuts and decoded steerable 2- and 4-channel
EMT produces the first digital reverb as its model 250.
Ampex introduces 456 high-output mastering tape.
Tom Stockham of Soundstream makes the first 16-bit digital recording in
the U.S. at the Santa Fe Opera.
first EIAJ standard is established for the use of 14-bit PCM adaptors with
Sony markets its PCM-1 14-bit adaptor for consumer use with VCR decks.
A patent is issued to Blackmer for an adaptive filter (the basis of DBX
types I and II noise reduction).
3M introduces metal particle cassette tape.
Mitsubishi, Sony and Studer each introduce multitrack digital recorders.
EMT introduces its Model 450 hard disk digital recorder.
Sony introduces a palm-size stereo cassette tape player called a
demonstrates the Compact Disc (CD).
MIDI is standardized as the universal synthetizer interface.
IBM introduces a 16-bit personal computer (PC).
introduces the PCM-F1, intended for the consumer market, the first
14-/16-bit digital adaptor for VCRs. It is eagerly snapped up by the
professionals, sparking the digital revolution in recording equipment.
Sony releases the first CD player, the Model CDP-101.
optic cable is used for long-distance digital audio transmission, linking
New York and Washington, DC.
Apple Corporation markets the Macintosh computer.
introduces the SR Spectral Recording system.
WGBH in Boston originates the first digital audio broadcast, sent direct
to local radio stations in the U.S.
first digital consoles appear.
R-DAT recorders are introduced in Japan.
Dr Gunther Theile describes a novel stereo sphere microphone.
markets a Macintosh-based digital workstation using DAT for storage.
telephone links are offered for high-end studio use.
Dolby proposes a 5-channel surround sound scheme for home theater systems.
The write-once CD-R becomes a commercial reality.
3M introduces 996 mastering tape, a 13 dB improvement over Scotch 111.
Ahnert presents, as a binaural simulation, the first digitally modeling of
an acoustic space.
Alesis unveils the ADAT, the first "affordable" digital
Apple debuts the QuickTime multimedia format.
Ampex introduces 499 mastering tape.
audio data-reduction record/play hardware and software is offered to
consumers as Sony MiniDisc and Philips DCC.
The Nagra D is introduced as self-contained, battery-operated field
recorder using Nagra's own 4-channel, 24-bit, open-reel format.
the first extensive use of "distance recording" via ISDN,
producer Phil Ramone records the Duets album with Frank Sinatra.
Mackie unveils the first "affordable" 8-bus analog console.
unveils the ProMix 01, the first "affordable" digital multitrack
first solid-state audio recorder, the Nagra ARES-C, is introduced. It is a
battery-operating field unit recording on PCMCIA cards using MPEG-2 audio
Iomega debuts high-capacity "Jaz" and "Zip" drives,
useful as removable storage media for hard-disk recording.
digital recordings are made at 24 bits and 96 kHz.
Record labels begin to add multimedia files to new releases, called them
video discs and players are now commercially available. An audio version
with 6-channel surround sound is expected within two years.
Some of this information courtesy
Engineering Society, Inc.