News From The Woods.15


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published December 1st, 1997

"Timeline of Audio/Video Technology"

While doing some research a couple of months ago for the "Sherman Set the Wayback Machine For 1980" article I came across some data I had been compiling from various sources which had dates and names and notes of technological advancements made throughout the history of audio. I find such trivia interesting to me and thought that perhaps some of you out there might be amused and enlightened armed with the knowledge of exactly when stereo recording was first realized (1931), who was the first band to contract a touring PA system (The Beach Boys), when was the first transistor produced (1951), or what was the first hollywood movie with an all-electronic music score ("Forbidden Planet" - remember Robby The Robot?).

Lots of these events are commonly documented, like Thomas Edison's early experiments or when the CD was first commercially released. Some of it is highly technical (the Nyquist Theorum), and some of it is hardly audio related (the first PC computer) but I thought it would add to the overall positioning in history as seen from arms length. Some tidbits will probably surprise you or at least cause a raised eyebrow. Remember 45 RPM singles and the black 45 spindle adaptor with the red top ? This information should be essential reading for those of you who play the Trivial Pursuit game. Enjoy!

1876- Thomas Alva Edison, working in his lab, succeeds in recovering Mary's Little Lamb from a strip of tinfoil wrapped around a spinning cylinder.

1877- Edison officially demonstrates the invention of the phonograph.

1887- Emile Berliner is granted a patent on flat disc gramophone, making the production of multiple copies practical.

1895- Marconi achieves wireless radio transmission from Italy to America.

1901- The Victor Talking Machine Company is founded by Emile Berliner and Eldridge Johnson. Experimental optical recordings are made on motion picture film.

1906- Lee DeForest invents the triode vacuum tube, the first electronic signal amplifier.

1913- The first talking movie is demonstrated by Edison using his kinetophone process, a cylinder player mechanically synchronized to a film projector.

1917- The Scully disc recording lathe is introduced. E.C. Wente publishes a paper in Physical Review describing a uniformly sensitive instrument for the absolute measurement of sound intensity - the condenser microphone.

1919- The Radio Corporation of America (RCA) is founded.

1921- The first commercial radio broadcast is made by KDKA, Pittsburg, PA.

1925- Bell Laboratories develops a moving armature lateral cutting system for recording on disc. RCA works on the development of ribbon microphones.

1927- "The Jazz Singer" is released as the first commercial talking picture. The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) is formed. The Japan Victor Corporation (JVC) is formed.

1928- Dr. Georg Neumann founds a German company to manufacture his condenser microphones. It's first product is the Model CMV-3.

1929- Harry Nyquist publishes the mathematical foundation for the sampling theorem basic to all digital audio processing., The Nyquist theorem.

1931- Alan Blumlein, working for EMI in London patents the stereo recording technique, using a figure-eight miking arrangement.

1935- BASF prepares the first plastic-based magnetic recording tape.

1938- The Shure Brothers engineer the microphone element for the SM57 and SM58 Models. The RCA 44B and 77B ribbon microphones are introduced. RCA develops the first column loudspeaker.

1939- AC biasing of magnetic tape is accidently discovered by German researchers. Major Armstrong, the inventor of FM radio, makes the first experimental FM broadcast.

1940- Walt Disney's "Fantasia" is released with 8-track stereophonic sound.

1941- Commercial FM broadcasting begins in the U.S.

1942- The RCA LC-1A loudspeaker is developed as a control room monitor. The first stereo tape recordings are made by Helmut Kruger at German Radio in Berlin.

1943- Altec develops its Model 604 coaxial speaker.

1944- Alexander M. Poniatoff forms Ampex Corporation to make electric motors for the military.

1945- Two confiscated German engineered Magnetophone tape recorders are sent back to the U.S. in multiple mailbags by the US Army Signal Corps sergeant John T (Jack) Mullin.

1947- Bing Crosby selects tape recorders furnished by Jack Mullin to record Crosby's Philco Radio Time program. Ampex produces their first tape recorder, the Model 200.

1948- The Audio Engineering Society (AES) was formed. The 33 and 1/3 rpm Long Play vinyl record is introduced by Columbia Records. Scotch introduces acetate-based recording tape.

1949- RCA introduces the microgroove 45rpm, large-hole, 7-inch record and record-player attachment. Magnecord produces the first US-made stereo tape recorder.

1950- Les Paul modifies his Ampex Model 300 tape recorder with an extra preview head for "sound on sound" overdubs.

1951- The transistor is developed at Bell Laboratories.

1952- Peter J. Baxandall publishes his (much copied) tone control circuit.

1953- Ampex produces a 4-track, 35mm magnetic film system for 20th Century Fox' s Christmas release of "The Robe" in CinemaScope and stereo.

1954- EMT introduces the electromechanical reverberation plate. Sony produces the first pocket transistor radio. The first portable tape recorder, the Model 600, is introduced by Ampex. The first commercial stereo tapes are released.

1955- Ampex develops Sel-Sync recording, making audio overdubbing practical.

1956- Les Paul makes the first 8-track recordings using the Sel-Sync method.

1957- Elektra releases the first electronic music recording: Subotnick's "Silver Apples of the Moon".

1958- The movie "Forbidden Planet" is released, with the first all-electronic music score.

1959- First stereo disc recordings appear.

1961- The FCC approves the FM stereo broadcast format.

1962- The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) sets the standard for the time-code format.

1963- The Beach Boys contract Sunn Electronics to build the first large full-range sound system for touring.

1965- The Dolby Type A noise reductions system is introduced. Robert Moog shows elements of his early synthesizers.

1966- Phillips introduces the Compact Cassette format, and offers licenses worldwide.

1967- The Monterey International Pop Festival becomes the first large rock musical festival. The musical "Hair" opens up on Broadway with a high-powered sound system.

1969- Dr. 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.

1970- The first digital delay line, Lexicon's Delta-T 101, is introduced and becomes widely used in sound reinforcement installations.

1972- Quadraphonic decoders are licensed and produced for the first time.

1974- The Grateful Dead produce 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.

1975- EMT produces the first digital reverb as their Model 250.

1976- Dr. Tom Stockman of Soundstream makes the first 16-bit digital recording in the U.S.

1977- Apple II unveiled.

1978- First video-based digital editor introduced. Yamaha debuts NS-10M near-field monitor.

1979- Sony introduces the Walkman. Tascam Portastudio debuts.

1980- The first digital multitrack recorders are introduced.

1981- Phillips introduces the Compact Disc. IBM introduces the first personal computer. MTV begins broadcasting.

1982- Sony introduces the first CD player, the CDP-101. MIDI is standardized as the universal synthesizer interface.

1983- Beta Hi-Fi debuts. Fibre optic cable is used for long distance digital audio transmission, linking New York to Washington, D.C.

1984- The Apple Corporation markets the Macintosh computer.

1985- WGBH in Boston originates the first live digital audio broadcast, sent direct to local radio stations in the U.S. First under-$1,000 digital reverbs are introduced.

1986- The first digital consoles appear. RDAT recorders are introduced in Japan.

1987- First consumer DAT decks.

1990- ISDN telephone lines appear for commercial use. Sony introduces writable CD's.

1991- Alesis ADAT introduced as the first "affordable" digital multitrack recorder.

1992- MiniDisc and DCC digital recording schemes are introduced. Tascam introduces DA-88.

1993- Mackie unveils the first "affordable" 8-bus analog console.

1994- Yamaha unveils the ProMix 01, the first "affordable" digital multitrack console.

1995- The first solid-state audio recorder, the Nagra ARES-C, is introduced. It is a battery-operated unit recording on PCMCIA cards and using MPEG-2 audio compression.

1996- Experimental digital recordings are made at 24 bits and 96 kHz.

1997- DVD discs and players become commercially available.

And the rest, as they say, is history.................

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