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Recording  History

The first 160 years ... some interesting facts and figures in the history of recording arts and the music industry:

1857 Leon Scott de Martinville, an Irishman who lived in France, designed the first Phono-Autograph

1871 The italian Antonio Meucci invented the "Talking Telegraph". Due to a dreadfull period of illness and poverty he was unable to pay the amount of 250$ for the patent. After he presented his invention to the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1876, an employee of the Bell Company stole the documents. Western Union later claimed the documents as "lost"!

1876 The German Emil Berliner invented the first Telephon-Microphone in Hannover and sold the patent for 75.000 Dollar to the Bell Company.

1877 The Scottsman Alexander Graham Bell with Thomas Alpha Edison claim to have invented the microphone. Together with the stolen invention of Antonio Meucci, Graham Bell now patents the "Telphone aparatus" in New York

1877 Edison designed the styllus based phonograph using a wax cylinder

1880s Alexander Graham Bell developed a competing version to Edisons Phonograph - using waxed paper or tin foil wrapped around a cardboard.

1887 Emil Berliner invented the Gramophone and the "2-side-Shellac-Disc-Record" as a reproduceable media. The media used by Edison or Bell was unsuitable for a duplication process!

1889 First mass production of handdriven grammophones by Emil Berliners factory in Hannover, Germany

1896 First film with a soundtrack by Lee De Forest. Antonio Meucci - the real inventor of the telephone - died as a poor business man in Staten Island, NY.

1898 Emil Berliner and his brother Jacob found the first Record-Label: "Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft" and procuced the first commercial "Shellac" in his own production facility.

1900 The "Deutsche Grammophon" joines the international stock-market. The Label "His Masters Voice" is found and patented to Emil Berliner . Also this year: the earliest speech via radio waves.

1901 E. Berliner and Eldridge Johnson form the "Victor Talking Machine Company". The first 10"-disc is recorded featuring S.H.Dudley, performing "When Reuben Comes To Town".

1902 Recording debut of the tenor Enrice Caruso!

1903 Charles Parsons patented the world's first amplifier: "The Intensifier". The 12"-shellac-disc is invented, the first UK pressing plant opens and the very first complete opera (Verdi's "Ernani") is recorded onto 40 single-sided discs.

1912 The double-sided shellac-disc-record is introduced.

1913 DECCA introduces the portable gramophone in England.

1920 The first million-seller in the history of the music-industry: "Whispering" by the Mayfair Dance Orchestra. The B-side featured the song: "The Japanese Sand Man".

1922 The first elektro-acoustical recording process takes the place of the mechanical funnel-microphone. "Optical Sound" is introduced for film.

1925 HMV (His Masters Voice), Victor and Columbia undertake their first electrical recordings.

1926 First music-magazine: The Melody Maker

1928 First TV broadcast

1929 Emil Berliner died August, 3rd in Washington, DC, USA. The "Decca Record & Gramophone Co." is formed in the UK.

1931 "EMI" is formed through the merging of "The Gramophone Co." and "Columbia". The basics of "stereophonic recording and reproduction" is patented to Mr. Alan Blumlein. Adolph Rickenbacker invented the electrical guitar together with Bath and Beauchamp.

1932 The legendary "Abbey Road Studios" open its doors for business.

1933 Walter Weber invented the Magnetophone and applied the basics of "bias". Vladimir Poulsen introduced the "Telegraphone-Magnetic-Cylinder-Recording-System" that allowed to re-record over recordings. The terrible sound made a commercial use impossible.

1934 The US engineer Laurens Hammond invented the electrical tonewheel organ.

1937 First commercially marketed tape recorder - the Magnetophon - is introduced to the recording industry by AEG-Telefunken in Germany.

1939 Lale Anderson records "Lily Marlene" and Glen Miller gets "In The Mood". Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, two young Germans from Berlin take the last boat out of Germany before 2nd world war.

1940 The first "charts" of popular music is published by Billboard.

1941 The year "cool" was born! Allfred Lion and Francis Wolff - as jazz enthusiats and lifelong friends - found the most influential jazz-label to date: BLUE NOTE RECORDS. Soon to be joined by the mastermind of sleeve design: Reid Miles and recording pioneer Rudy Van Gelder as sound engineer.

1946 Jack Mullins Ampex-Ltd. starts the commercial production of the magnatic tape as a better recording media.

1948 Leo Fender creates the solid body electric guitar: the Fender "Broadcaster" (renamed 1950 into "Telecaster"). John Barden and Walter Brattain invents the Transistor at Bell Telephone Labs.

1950 First reel-to-reel recorder is sold in the US.

1951 The worlds first mass production of 78-rpm vinyl-singles by "Deutsche Grammophon" in Hannover.

1953 Introduction of vinyl records capable of 40-45 minutes of play (an entire album; both sides). 45 rpm record single took the place of the 78 rpm single.

1955 First international No.1 hit-single: "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley.

1956 Elvis Aaron Presley signes his first record-deal with RCA. Within the next 10 years Reid Miles and Francis Wolff will design more than 500 Blue Note sleeves for jazz-artists as Horace Silver, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Donald Byrds, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock.

1958 Decca launches the first stereo-recording with the slogan: "FFSS - full frequency stereophonic sound"

1960 Motown Records first million-seller: "Shop Around" by The Miracles.

1962 Robert 'Bob Dylan' Zimmermann signes to CBS and releases his debut album.

1965 invention and mass production of commercial music-cassettes. Not a change in technology but rather a unique packaging system that was meant for dictation and not music. Convenience wins out over quality! The Beatles record "Yesterday", later to become the world's most recorded song.

1966 Blue Note Records is sold to Liberty Records forced by Alfred Lions heart condition.

1967 First 4-track recording by George Martin at Abbey Road Studio 2: "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles. Birth of the Rolling Stone magazine in San Francisco. Jimi Hendrix takes all drugs he could find downtown New York and rushes the world of popular music into "the summer of love" ... certainly ... high!

1969 BBC1 begins to broadcast a colour TV service in the UK. The 26 year old Manfred Eicher founds ECM-Records - the most influential jazz-label since Blue Note Records - in Munich, Germany. Starting out with the trio of Mal Waldron - soon to be followed by artists as Keith Jarrett or Jan Gabarek - Manfred Eicher is going to produce over 900 records within the next 30 years, together with engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug ... creating "the most beautiful sound next to silence"!

1970 First quadro-phonical recording (4 channel recording)

1977 First recording session using a digital tape-machine in the US

1978 Sourround Sound is introduced to cinemas with George Lucas "Star Wars". Record Companies claim "Home Taping is Killing Music".

1980 John Lennon shot in New York. Invention of the CD-media in cooperation of SONY and Phillips. Offering a storage-space between 650 and 720 MBytes, useing lazer beams to produce "noiseless" recordings. The initial disc were generally awful. The music industry pushed for the new format to boost sales and to re-sell their back-catalog.

1982 The very first CD-production starts in Hannover, Germany.

1985 Live Aid at Wembley (UK) and JFK-Stadium, Philadelphia (USA) raises over $ 50m for Ethiopia!

1987 U2 releases "The Joshua Tree" after midnight and becomes the fastest selling record to date. Digital Audio Tape (DAT) -player hit the market and fail - except in the recording industry as master recorder. 

1989 Introduction of the 2-track-high-bit-technology.

1990 Introduction of the multitrack-high-bit-technology.

1991 Formats battle between MiniDisc and DCC (Digital Compact Casette). MiniDisc wins!

1997 Elton John's Diana tribute "Candle In The Wind" is recorded, mastered and despatched within 48 hours. It will go on to be the biggest seller - ever.

1998 First 96-kHz-recording. "Single Malt Records" - the music distillery is found.

1999 Production of the first DVD-Audio storing 18 GBytes. E-Commerce is launched and record companies start to digitalise their repertoire. MP3-files cause copyright controversy. Major-Record-Companies claim "Copy kills Music".

2001 One of the first 24bit-mobile-multichannel-productions on a Laptop (G3-Powerbook) was recorded by Single Malt Records - running up to 64 channels in time - using Firewire-Multichannel-Audio-Interfaces.

Apple launches iTunes as a media player, media library, Internet radio broadcaster and mobile device management application  on January 9, 2001.

2002 During the last 7 years Digidesigns "ProTools" became THE key player on the music production market - replacing the conventional art of recording and their facilities. The "DAW" (Digital Audio Workstation) is now fully established on a worldwide basis!

2004 "Audio-Over-IP" is introduced by several audio manufacturer as a new technology for audio transmission via conventional ethernet cabeling.

2005 The music industry still struggels with its inner nature and might fail due to its structure based on CD-product-marketing, while Steve Jobs is growing bigger with mp3-based music distribution via the world wide web and his iTunes-music-store, the iPod becomes one of the most wanted status symbols in the world!

2008 Spotify is launched on 7 October 2008. Spotify provides access to more than 30 million songs. As of June 2017, it had more than 140 million monthly active users and more than 70 million paying subscribers as of 4 January 2018.

2012 The revival of vinyl: Vinyl records, or long playing (LP) records, have become popular again as a way to consume music despite the rise of digital media. Over 15 million units were sold between 2008 and 2012, their sales reaching the highest level in 2012 since 1993. Popular artists have begun releasing their albums on vinyl, and stores such as Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods have started selling them. Sony, have started manufacturing LP's for the first time since 1989 as this medium becomes more popular. However, some companies are facing production problems as there are only 16 record plants currently functioning in the US and only 2 in Germany!

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