In the 1920s, the record player was king, kinda like Fonzie in 1950s Wisconsin. If you wanted to listen to your favorite band all you needed to do was go to the record store, by their album and pop it in your record player.
Then we had tapes. They were cool, right? Double-sided so you could put more music on them, cassette players eventually became portable and eventually cars were made with tape-decks in them. 1963 was when the Philip’s compact audio cassette made its debut.
In 1979 the Sony Walkman was introduced, and that thing had a long run. Look hard enough and you can still see people running with Walkmans, listening to them on the Metro, walking to class with theirs on. Of course the technology is now better than it was in 1979, but it’s worth noting that this technology has lasted even with the competition of CD players, mp3 players and iPods.
1982 is the year that the first ever CD was made, and 6 years later CD sales had already surpassed LP sales. Word on the street (according to Wikipedia, since that’s the only source I can find that seems to care about this topic) is that the first C.D. manufactured and released in the United States was Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. New Jersey, for the win! Definitely fitting for the first American CD, and definitely on my iPod. The first album to be released on CD, (again, according to Wikipedia) was Billy Joel’s 52nd Street. Another obvious winner.
After the CD came mp3 players and the beginning of online music sharing, including sites like BearShare, Limewire, Napster and more. Of course, along came Apple and the iPod and the music biz was forever changed. One thing I did not realize is that the iPod is less than ten years old. October 23, 2001 is the release date for Apple’s first iPod music player. Today is April 17, 2010 and it’s becoming difficult to find someone who doesn’t own an iPod.
Photo credit: Kelly O
Detailing the past and the evolution of the music industry leads me to wonder—where is it going? How are we going to listen to music next year? In 5 years? Books used to be spoken, then they were printed on paper, now they’re available on somewhat futuristic devices like the Kindle and the iPad. How is music going to change? & more importantly, how is the music industry going to adapt to that? These questions are going to start being answered in the next few years, but for now I’m good with my iPod and my 6-disc CD changer.
If you’re at all interested in this, and would like to take a look at a more in-depth outline, check out this Web site, which chronicles music formats and recording history from Thomas Edison up to the iPod shuffle.