Music has been a part of people’s lives for thousands of years, but until the record was invented, it was not nearly as popular. Nowadays we take it for granted with music playing in elevators, from our pockets, and as a background for everything we do. It never used to be that way… if you wanted to hear music you would have to go and watch it being played live.
The great Thomas Edison made the first step towards the rapid spread of music. He’s also famous also for giving us the light bulb and the motion picture. It’s no surprise that this awesome man and genius inventor created the first phonograph in 1877. It was able to record and reproduce sound. He wasn’t using vinyl yet. The sound actually came from tin foil.
For a very long time this magical sound player was only used in novelty public demonstrations. In the late 1880’s, Edison developed a better phonograph that used a hollow wax cylinder instead of a foil sheet. This type of phonograph was used until the early 20th century.
Emile Berliner created the first gramophone, which was very different from Edison’s phonograph and played the first records, known as vinyl. Ten and twelve-inch records were only introduced in the early 1900’s and became immediately popular because they could play over three minutes of sound. Edison continued to improve his devices with the Amberol cylinder, a type of plastic that could play for 4 1/2 minutes, but during the 1910’s the records eventually won out.
The speed of records improved over the years and by 1925 the standard speed of 78rpm became the norm. During the early 1920’s records were improved and developed so they could hold more sound and reproduce it accurately. In 1931 the first vinyl, then introduced as ‘Program Transcription Discs’, were produced and sold. From the fifty years between the 1930’s until the 1980’s, the vinyl record was the best way to hear quality sounding music. The CD (Compact Disc) would replace the vinyl record as the music industry standard.
Vinyl sales dropped almost completely off the planet and interest in CD’s and now MP3’s replaced it. However, vinyl has been making a steady and impressive comeback. Over 6 million vinyl records were sold in 2013 and that number is trending to rise annually. Today casual listeners of all ages, audiophiles and DJ’s are on track to make vinyl more popular than any time in history.
Ready to start feeding your vinyl habit? Shop for vinyl records to add to your collection!
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