In 21st century, listening to music is getting easier and easier with many modern and high-tech devices. The development of audio technology now allows us to listen to any songs we like with just a smart phone. Saying goodbye to the time that we have to write down the lyrics and look for the songs among radio and compact discs. Now, with just many applications and software, just by one click and we will know the name of the song is playing. With such an amazing help from technology, have you ever wonder how long it takes for us to get here? When was the first music device invented? This article will answer those questions by get you through the timeline of music device development.
Where All the Stories Began
The very first music device was music box and the device was made in Jan, 1811. It is an automatic musical instrument that produces sound by placing pins on a revolving cylinder or disc. The original music box was tiny container that can fit into a waistcoat pocket. In 1815, the very first factory that produced music boxes was opened. The industry quickly expanded to many countries including Germany and US. From a tiny music box, this music device then was developed into giant designs and many other variations. And at the end of 19th century, music box was rapidly replaced by player piano. Nowadays, there are still music box manufactures around the world but mostly for decoration purpose.
1850s to 1900s
After the birth of music box, in 1857, phonautograph was invented by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville. The device is known as the earliest device that could record sound. Phonautograph transcribed sound waves as undulations using a traced line on smoke-blacken paper or glass. Not long after the invention of phonautograph, 1870s, phonautogram was defined as device can provide records that contain enough information about the sound in theory. However, with the insubstantial two-dimensional line, physical playback could not work until computer technology recreated the records in 2008.
In 1876, piano player was invented and one year later, in 1877, the first phonograph was created by Thomas Edison. The invention soon made massive change in the music and audio industry. The device was mechanical recording and reproduction of sound using the vibration waveforms. The machine then was improved by Alexander Graham Bell who is the first patterned for practical telephone that change the way human communication.
After the significant change from phonograph, in 1889, the first jukebox was introduced. The invention was an innovation from phonograph which involved rubber tubes and was activated by coin in each tubes. Back then, the device was incorporated with other devices until inventors implemented on this automated music-playing device.
20th century has witnessed huge changes in the music and sound industry as many significant inventions were born and set the foundation for many innovations later. The first invention in 20th century was radio station in Nov, 1920. KDKA was the very first commercially licensed radio station over the world. The station can operated on clear channel and broadcast. As the radio station was available, the radio industry was booming for radio products such as rec.
Not until 1964 had eight-track player and tape been invented. It was a magnetic tape sound-recording technology. The invention was innovation from four-track cartridge. The stereo 8 was then introduced under Lear Jet Corporation and was a massive hit in the sound and audio industry. After that, with the corporation with automobile industry, 8-track players started to be installed in cars which then were available in many cars and trucks through the early 1980s.
However, the era of 8-track did not last for long with the introduction of cassette in 1971. The invention then changed the entire music industry by allowing record dictation for high-quality music playback. Many music production then switched to cassette and the production line started to expand with many products and innovations.
Five year later, the first boom box was patterned. It was a portable transistorized cassette tape recorder or player with AM/FM radio. The design composed of two or more loudspeakers, an amplifier, radio tuner and cassette player. The louder and heavier bass will require bigger design. This music device soon became an icon in urban society and closely linked to American hip-hop culture.
The music industry then experienced another change with the invention of Walkman which is a portable cassette player through headphones. The device soon became a favorite music player by teenagers and music fans.
Another big change in 20th century was the introduction of compact disc or CD in May, 1982. The invention was the result of digital technology which allowed higher music quality than cassette. The circle thin shape can contain more songs than cassette and not very soon until the CD era had took over the world. Not for music, along with computer and electronic innovations, VCD was born. The invention then changed the direction of music industry as many music player manufacturers started to release CD-player products including boombox and Walkman.
In the late 20th century, finally the MP3 was invented. With the help of computer science and Internet, we finally can download music from online website, setting another platform for music industry besides physical sales. Music devices then had another ultimate shift from CD to digital music and the era of digital was just beginning.
In the Beginning of 21st Century up to Now
21st century started with the first portable media player in 2002. Many innovations came after and Ipod generation began to boom. The product is a pioneer in using touch sensitive controls to scroll down the playlists. The music industry was remarkably changed with smaller MP3 player, media playback and yes, touch screen. The music devices and players are getting smaller with many applications and functions built in. Smartphone comes along and changes the game of music industry for its music functions. In 2010, we finally had to say goodbye to Walkman – an icon of music player in 80s after the dominance of CDs and MP3. With the fast changing environment, we will continue to witness more amazing creations and innovation in music device industry in near future.