The Evolution Of Recording

The history of recording encompasses a number of different things. It includes areas such as television and radio as well as the major inventors and inventions that helped better the system. Some of those are discussed in the following timeline.


1877 - Thomas Edison records the human voice singing.

1878 - Edison's awarded a patent for a phonograph.

1881 - Lateral cut records are invented.

1888 - The gramophone is created.

1889 - The Columbia Phonograph Co. begins mass producing the gramophone.

For more information see:

Cylinder vs. Disc

1890 - A phonograph that plays music for money is an instant hit when it's introduced.

1894 - Guglielmo Marconi invents the first radio type machine.

1897 - Shellac discs and lower priced gramophones are introduced.

1898 - The magnetic recorder appears.

1902 - Edison invents a lower cost version of records made from hard wax.

Motion Picture Sound

1904 - Double sided discs appear.

1906 - The cabinet phonograph is introduced.

1908 - Home on the Range is recorded and becomes a hit song.

1913 - Edison introduces flat discs that work on his machines.

1917 - Over There becomes the best selling song of the World War II era.

New Popular Music

1917 - Livery Stable Blues is the first recorded album of jazz music.

1920 - RCA licenses music and recordings from artists under other labels.

1920 - Commercial radio begins in Pittsburg.

1923 - Down-Hearted Blues becomes the first record to sell 750,000 copies in a single year.

1923 - Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane is the first country record to sell a large number of copies.

1925 - The Barn Dance Show appears, later becomes the Grand Ole Opry.

Electric Era Replaces Acoustic Era

1925 - Electric recorded discs appear.

1926 - Sound is synced with moving pictures.

1927 - The first studio made for creating movies with sound arrives in Hollywood.

1927 - The first coin operated juke box appears.

1928 - Georg Neumann introduces the condenser microphone.

1930 - Bing Crosby leaps to stardom with his recording of I Surrender, Dear.

1931 - The Empire State Building becomes the first to use elevator music.

1931 - EMI Studio on Abbey Road opens.

1931 - The first electric guitars are made by the Rickenbacker company.

Music for the Masses

1933 - Wurlitzer introduces their first jukeboxes.

1934 - Wurlitzer introduces jukeboxes with multiple song selections.

1934 - The era of swing music begins.

1935 - WNEW out of New York becomes the first radio station to play music and give news updates.

1942 - The military creates the Armed Forces Radio Service.

More resources on this topic include The History of Recorded Music, A Timeline of Popular Music/Recording History with some of the songs identified and A Short History of the Multitrack Recording Studio, which shows how this changed the face of music.

Magnetic Tape Recording Invented

1928 - Fritz Pfleumer invents a way to stick magnetic powder on paper.

1931 - The magnetic tape recorder is invented.

1936 - The first live concert is recorded and played later.

1940 - The first secret recording of political figures is done.

1941 - The Magnetophone is perfected.

1944 - 3M joins the recording revolution.

The History of Magnetic Recording offers a long history of how this was invented and An Audio Timline covers the events in an easy to follow timeline format.

Tape Recording Comes to America

1945 - John Mullin brings the Magnetophone to the U.S.

1946 - Mullin works on the machine and introduces a better version.

1947 - Bing Crosby moves from NBC to ABC when the previous station refuses to use this new machine.

1947 - Bing Crosby records his shows on this machine.

1948 - 3M releases tape for use with the machine.

See Sound Recording - History for information on this topic and The History of Recording, which uses a timeline format.

War of the Speeds

1947 - Peter Goldmark invents the LP.

1948 - Columbia releases the first LP recordings.

1949 - RCA introduces the EP record.

1949 - RCA introduces the EP record player.

1949 - Capital sells all three major types of records, the only company to do so.

1951 - Victor focuses on LPs and Columbia sells only 45s.

Rock and Roll

1947 - Smaller labels offer a new type of music later called rock.

1947 - Good Rocking Tonight becomes the first rock song.

1949 - The Top 40 appears.

1950 - Blues music becomes a hit, in part to artists like Muddy Waters.

1951 - Sam Phillips opens Sun Studios and Sun Records in Memphis.

From Stereo to Cassette

1952 - Alan Freed becomes the first rock and roll DJ.

1953 - Elvis Presley records his first record.

1954 - Bill Haley records Shake, Rattle and Roll.

1956 - The Elvis song Heartbreak Hotel becomes a hit song.

1945 - Paul Klipsch invents the folded horn speaker.

Microphone History

1949 - Magnecord introduces the open reel tape recorder.

1954 - The bookshelf speaker appears.

1954 - RCA begins offering tapes for the open reel stereo.

1957 -The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences appears.

1959 - The first Grammy Awards are held.

1962 - The first portable stereo is introduced.

1963 - Phillips introduces the cassette.

1966 - 8 track players appear in vehicles.

Video Tape Recording

1950 - Jack Mullin works on creating a magnetic recorder for television.

1951 - Ampex launches plans to build a video tape recorder.

1954 - The Fender Stratocaster is designed and manufactured.

1956 - CBS launches the first videotape broadcast.

1957 - Work begins on color television.

1959 - The first portable video recorder appears.

Japanese Introduce Helical Scan

1959 - Toshiba introduces the helical scan.

1960 - Ampex lets Sony use their patent.

1961 - JVC shows how helical scan works with video recording.

1963 - Sony sells the first video recorder for the public.

1965 - Sony introduces the helical scan video recorder.

Loudspeaker History

1967 - Instant replay is introduced.

1969 - The first videocassettes are released by Sony.

1972 - Phillips invents the laserdisc.

1975 - The Betamax is released by Sony.

1976 - JVC releases the VCR.

Betamax Battles

1976 - Sony releases a Betamax capable of recording television.

1977 - The first four hour tape appears.

1979 - Sony releases the Walkman.

1980 - The first laserdisc player is released to the public.

1980 - The camcorder is released by Sony.

Digital Revolution

1982 - CDs are released.

1985 - The CD-ROM is created.

1988 - CDs outsell LPs.

1990 - Digital radio appears in Canada.

1997 - DVD players are introduced to the US.

Radio and Television History

1997 - Titanic becomes the biggest grossing movie of all time.

1997 - ER broadcasts a special live television episode.

1998 - HDTV appears.

1999 - TiVo appears.

2000 - Rentals of movies increase while television watching drops.

Resources on this topic include:

Films and Videos and CDs

2000 - Disney releases Fantasia in an IMAX format.

2001 - Apple releases the iPod.

2002 - DVDs outsell videos.

2003 - DVD rentals rise, while video rentals fall.

2004 - HD radio is introduced to cars.

2005 - The iPod Shuffle becomes a big seller.

No one knows what the future of recording history holds. As technology continues to grow and change, new products will take over and replace the older ones.