Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Top 10 Historical Music Players

10. Music Boxes
1815 – First Music Box Factory Opened
 Music Box
Music boxes are automatic musical instruments that play tunes on a steel comb as a cylinder, or disc, turns. They can be anything from a box to a pocket watch. Switzerland was the main producer of music boxes in the 19th century. This is because of the similarity to making watches. Before this time there had been boxes or other trinkets that played music, but they weren't produced for the public. Though many of us imagine music boxes to be small and have a simple tune, some are large tables with interchangeable cylinders. Others have drums or bells as well as the metal comb. Music boxes play a subtle roll even in more current times. Music boxes show up in various games including Super Mario Bros. 3 and Fable II.

9. Player Piano
1896 – Aeoril Piano Introduced and Marketed
Player Piano
In a very simple sense, player pianos use a roll of paper with holes. As the paper scrolls the holes let air out of the small bellows for each key. This pulls the key down, causing the hammer to strike the string. In the mid-18th century development started on player pianos. It wasn't until the 1890s that a complete player piano was marketed to the public. Even into the 1900s the designs for the player pianos continually changed. The player pianos were in high demand until the stock market crashed and then fell off. It wasn't until the 1950s that they started coming back as collectors rescued the pianos. This brought back a demand and in the 1960s production started again.

8. Phonograph
1877 – Thomas Edison Invents Phonograph
Thomas Edison developed the first phonograph while trying to come up with a way to record telegraph messages. While researching with the magnets and discs involved in telegraphs, he came up with the idea of using a cylinder covered in tinfoil to capture the vibrations of someone talking. He took his invention to Scientific American and played his already recorded message without even explaining what it did. They were entranced from the beginning. From that point on phonographs started infiltrating society. The cylinder went from tinfoil to wax and then to gramophone records. The phonograph is the predecessor of vinyl records and uses the same idea to capture the sounds.

7. Jukebox
1890 – First Jukebox
Though many may think of the retro jukeboxes you can find in swanky diners, the term jukebox is more of a generic term. A jukebox is any automated music player that has self-contained media. They are coin operated which sets them apart from other music players. You can have phonographs, player pianos or the more common turntables. For the first decade the novelty wasn't that there was a variety of music but that people choose when it was played and in what order. It wasn't until 1918 that there was a device that could change records to give people more options. They were most popular from the 1940s to the 1960s.

6. 8-Track Tape
1965 – Ford Installs 8-Track Players in Cars
8 Tack
The 8-track track tape came from the reel-to-reel audio tape method which had been around since the 1940s. The 8-track offered something that these other magnetic tapes did not; it was portable and easy to use. These tapes have an endless loop which makes it easy to play, but they couldn't be rewound. What really got the tapes off the ground was when the Ford Motor Company included them in three of their 1966 models. The next year all of the Ford vehicles had the option to upgrade with the tape player. The tapes, while useful, had deficiencies and it didn't take long for them to be dropped in favor of cassettes.

5. Cassette Tape
1971 – Advent Corporation Introduces High Quality Cassette
Cassette Tape
The cassette tape had the advantage of being even smaller and offering more play time than an 8-track. It wasn't only used for recording audio but also for data storage for microcomputers. These were also the first option since phonographs for people to make their own recordings. And this was the first music player that came in a portable option. The Sony Walkman was the reason in the 1980s that cassettes did so well against vinyl record sales. The Walkman was revolutionary in that it is only a little larger than the actual cassette. There was even a model of walkman that was smaller than a cassette when not in use. This was a lot more portable than anything anyone had seen before.

4. Boombox
1976 – Commercially Introduced
Though we don't think of it, before the boombox there were few solutions to receiving radio stations and playing recorded music aloud. They were designed to be portable, capable of recording and able to play at high volume. This is what brought about the battle of the manufacturers. Each wanted to have the loudest, best sounding and fanciest product on the market. The other advantage boomboxes had was the capability of recording music from the radio onto a cassette in the device. Sometimes called a ghetto blaster or jambox, the boombox took off in the 1980s when breakdancing and the hip-hop culture was taking root. Though boomboxes are still made, personal stereos have replaced many of them.

3. CD
1982 – First CD Album Released in Japan
CDs are a combination of sound quality almost comparable to vinyl records and portability equal to cassettes. They have been used extensively in computers as a way of holding data as well as a way of storing music. CDs were created to be the successor of the gramophone record but found a niche in the data storage area. They quickly passed up cassettes since you can skip tracks, play them in the car and quickly burn data onto them. Even with all of the new options coming out for data storage, you can still find CDs for sale.

2. MP3
1996 – United States Patent Issued for MP3
The algorithm behind MP3s has been a subject of research since 1894. The idea behind MP3s is that you can reduce the amount of data required yet still retain the most of the sound quality. This is great for people who want to save space and yet don't mind if it doesn't sound exactly how it would in real life. Most people don't even notice the change from the original to the MP3 format. The new, free players available from the internet made sharing music easy and quick. Websites were set up by independent artists to spread their music for free. Now there are websites set up where you can go purchase songs and download them straight to your computer.

1. iPod
2001 – Apple Releases the First iPod
Though this was not the first portable media player that used MP3 files, it made these players popular. Designed and marketed by Apple, these devices changed the music world. Approximately 300 million iPods have been sold worldwide since the first model was launched in 2001. What do you think will happen next?

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