Have you ever imagined a world without a record player? Many wouldn’t dare to think about that, but they may be interested in knowing how, when and why record players were made and about those inventors who proposed this amazing phenomenon of recording, mixing and reproducing the sound.
Like TV or any other communication device, record players also have a long history. In this post, you will learn about the earliest record players invented centuries ago and how they were improved to take the shape that still exist. You will also read about the major contributors who invested their thoughts, time and money in turning this dream into reality.
- Edouard Leon Scott de Martinville
Record player is also regarded as phonograph or gramophone. Its history dates back to mid of the 19th century when Edouard Leon Scott de Martinville invented a sound producing mechanism he called “Phonautograph”. It was invented in 1857.
- Charles Cros
Afterwards, in 1870’s Charles Cros proposed his idea of sound production through photoengraving. The device would be called Paleophone, but he didn’t have resources to invent it. But, time has proved that the design proposed by Charles was the major breakthrough in the history of sound recording and production.
- Thomas Edison
In the same decade, Thomas Alva Edison invented “phonograph” which had similarities of de Martinville’s Phonautograph and Chrale’s Cros’s , but was more practical and successful than its predecessors. Then Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, worked on Edison’s invention and improved it to some extent.
- Emil Berliner
Later, Chichester Bell, along with Charles S. Tainer, worked on Edison’s design and named their machine, “Graphophone”. However, the phonograph obtained its proper shape, courtesy; Emil Berliner in 1886. In 1887, the first “Gramophone” was in the market.
From 1880’s to 1980’s, record player went through innumerable modifications and improvements and eventually attained its accurate form.
Some prominent sound recording/producing devices of 1800’s include phonograph, graphophone and gramophone.
Invented in 1877, Thomas Edison’s Phonograph was unarguably the first of its kind, had a capability of sound recording and reproducing. The device had a rotating cylinder with the wrapping of tinfoil sheet. It was used to record sound onto the sheet. The sound vibrations enabled the stylus to move up-and down and produce hill-and-dale groove in the tin foil.
Some major improvements in Edison’s design included a cutting stylus that could move sideways to produce zig-zag grooves, and cardboard cylinder coated with wax for smooth flow.
Invented in 1889, gramophone set the trend for the kind of record player we see today. In this design the basic and the most prominent improvement was the replacement of phonograph cylinder with a flat disc. The earliest equipment contained a zinc disc which had a coating of benzene and beeswax. Sound can be recorded onto the disc as the stylus moved in spiral motion.
Improvements Innovations and Change of Taste
In merely two decades after the first record player was invented, it became an important household device, as people could listen to their favorite songs and music, instead of going to live shows.
- The First Record Player
When the first model was introduced, electricity was not as common as it is today. So, it had the hand-cranked mechanism to role the record. However, the design did improve as the electric power replaced manual power.
- Introduction of Vinyl
In 1940, the introduction of vinyl proved to be the breakthrough in sound recording. It had a massive storage space compared to the mediums used in 1940’s. Vinyl was comparatively cheaper and that’s the reason why record player had become a must-have device in every American household by 1950’s.
- Modern Players
Record players remained highly popular until 1970’s, just when precise and expensive began to capture the market. By the end of 1980’s cassette players and eight-track players were ruling the entire world, and record players became obsolete. Finally, the introduction of CDs proved to be the nail in the coffin for them.
Recent developments in the music world have shown some dramatic changes in favor of vinyl record players. Experts have said and music lovers have shown their admiration for the equipment because of the better sound quality and listening experience. In the past few years, there has been a significant improvement in vinyl turntable market, thanks to some technological enhancements in terms of storage, sound, compatibility and portability.