How listening to music has changed!
Times have changed a lot specifically, how listening to music has changed.
Every day there is something that new furthers our technology. Let’s discuss the biggest ways things have changed on how we listen to music.
I want this post to go along with our amazing Full Tech podcast where we discussed it! You can listen to it right now, or you can also head over to Google or iTunes and subscribe so you don’t ever miss another episode!
Let’s Get Started, how has listening to music changed?
Today I’m going to focus on how we listen to music now, where it came from, the first recording devices. Also growing up in the 90s and struggling to listen to music on the go wasn’t even a simple task as it is today in 2018.
For reference this apparently this is the first sound/music/singing ever recorded that we know of. You can tell right away from the mere shape of this thing, we sure have come a long way.
Researching How listening to music has changed
From research, everyone thought for the longest time that Thomas Edison was the first inventor of the sound recorder. Turns out it was a French man named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. It was called the phonautograph and it only recorded and did not playback sound.
Pretty weird, record the sound but had no way to play it back. I’m guessing we finally found a way to play back this mysterious sound that was recorded back in the 1860s! Simply amazing this device was huge and looks weird as it can be, but it is pretty awesome that it even was available back then!
So as of this writing in 2018, the first sound we have discovered came from the 1860s.
This is remarkable and very cool that we even get to be a part of history and listen to some woman sing some song … sort of its really hard to make out what’s really going on but it’s something.
Let’s go back EVER further
Going back even further before they started making sound capturing devices like the phonautograph, people were making these little devices called Music boxes. I’m sure you’ve probably seen one if you collect old stuff whatsoever, I know I’ve run across a few not really knowing the history behind them or how they work. Looking at music boxes from a technical standpoint this really was almost the first form of programming.
Usually, a little hammer or something would strike this piece of metal that would play a certain note or tune/tone.
Anyways, the first music box was produced in 1811, but there are tons of devices made going all the way back to the 1500s. It is truly insane how far technology has come and how listening to music has changed.
The Transistor Era
Let’s jump to the kind of modern age or well the post Transistor age because before then radios and well just about any electronic device was going to be huge, simply because they couldn’t make them smaller. The transistor was seriously a game changer for not only radios and other devices but basically for every single piece of electronic equipment on the planet.
Regency TR-1 — the first transistor radio
The Regency TR-1 was the first commercially released radio. While there was some engineering nerd in a basement probably somewhere credited with creating the first transistor radio I believe this where it all started to begin.
Sure you could listen to the radio before this but, this radio was a game changer.
Really the first practical portable radio available for the common folk to buy. Producing what I would say the first real way we still kind of listen to music today. Most of our music today usually listened to by us on our phones. Man oh man has technology how listening to music has changed.
**When it was released in 1954, the Regency TR-1 cost $49.95 (equivalent to $456 today) and sold about 150,000 units*
Transistor radios where still really expensive to make and produce in the 1950s selling 150k of anything electronic these days is basically nothing compared to the way iPhones and iPods have jumped off the shelves. Let’s pay homage to the transistor radio without it, you and I might not ever be carrying around a smartphone.
Looking ahead to the 80’s and 90’s era
Memba the cassette? Boy, I do. I remember having to record songs off the radio onto my own cassette just so I could listen to it anytime. Maybe this was almost the first form of music piracy I have no idea but it happened.
Sometimes you would buy a boombox just with 2 cassette tapes in it just so you could rip songs off 1 cassette onto the mix cassette that you wanted. I remember seeing these types of boomboxes in business all around town. Always having the radio on, where I’m from it was country but some places had others. It’s hard to believe How listening to music has changed up to this POINT.
The Sony Walkman
The sony walkman was the cassette and radio to have. With the popularity of it coming back in resurgence with the original sony walkman due to the success of Guardians of the galaxy. This was the thing to have. You could jog with it, have on your little foamy headphones and go to jogging.
Radio on the go, cassette on the go it didn’t get much better than that we all thought boy how listening to music has changed.
For honorable mentions, we can also address that there are vinyl records and vinyl record players alongside 8 tracks most of those weren’t available on the go. The 8-track was introduced in vehicles I believe at some point but the cassette quickly replaced it. Vinyl today are still popular to listen on for the quality and the nostalgia of listening to the needle hit the plastic.
The Laser Disc
Then come the laser-disc, probably better known as CDs. You could have higher quality, and even more songs just on one disc than you could a cassette. I remember wanting a CD player so bad in a vehicle it was insane. There were even things like 8 cd disc changers. 8 full of songs and music that you would want to listen too!
CD players weren’t the norm at all in the early 90s in cars but you could buy boomboxes that had CD Cassette and radio combos that I believe was the most popular item at one point in time. I had to have this, there wasn’t any other way around it. I believe I finally got one for my birthday or something
So at first, you were lucky to have a CD player in your car, or at home in your stereo.
Then came along the portable CD player. While a good idea, at least in theory. Alas, it was terrible
You couldn’t listen to anything without it skipping if you moved. As long as the portable CD player was perfectly still, the CD would play fine. The slightest movement would render the listening experience pretty useless. You were better off grabbing your old sony walkman to go on a jog then try to lug around a portable CD player at the time.
The Anti-skip CD player.
Finally, they came out with the ANTI-Skip CD players. This was revolutionary at the time you could finally listen to music and not have it skip every 5 seconds. It would cost a bit more for the anti-skip upgrades to these portable Cd players but it was well worth it. You couldn’t touch the portable CD-player if it wasn’t anti-skip.
I still to this day remember packing around my light blue anti-skip cd player trying to probably listen to sugar-ray or Aerosmith one of the few music CDs I actually owned.
Whenever pirating songs off of Napster became a thing I finally had a PC that would burn CDs. Although it would literally take hours to burn 1 cd full of music it was always well worth the wait. I could now listen to Metallica, Megadeth, whatever I could finally get my hands on downloading on super fast 56k. Even Napster wasn’t the only file sharing application back in the day there was also BearShare and LimeWire that I remember.
It wasn’t long and CD-Players almost became obsolete
Anti-skipping CD players didn’t last too long. Being poor and in a county (Magoffin County, KY) behind the times in technology, they probably lasted longer than they did in other places though.
MP3 players didn’t become popular until I was almost at least a sophomore in high school. No longer did you have to burn CDs, at 1X speeds. All you had to do was transfer those handy “free” MP3s from BearShare onto your handy MP3 player. The only issue that I come to find out is that the original MP3 players at least the one I had could barely hold anything but like 2 songs.
If you wanted more you had to basically ruin the bitrate and quality of all the songs almost making them unlistenable. So from memory, I remember if you had 1 full song on the highest quality it would fit on the mp3 player. Without adding anymore though or maybe a very low-quality one but it wasn’t much.
I still remember going to football practice one day, carrying around my little MP3 with like one song on it, specifically the song Beastie Boys – So what’cha want. I literally thought I was one of the coolest people around carrying around my mp3s. Until I find out everyone hated that song that I let listen to it. It also was like the only song on my MP3 player. It wasn’t me it was just their terrible taste in music.
iPods and Zunes oh my.
Cell-phones were out in the time but they didn’t really support MP3s yet for some reason, probably because of storage issues. They did, however, carry midi files of popular songs which were very popular to do. Creating your ow midis and not spending money on the crap with a text message and something was very popular.
The growing popularity of MP3 players continued to rise, big companies like Apple and Microsoft decided to throw their hat into the ring. The iPod became popular and had plenty of storage, no longer did you have to deal with worrying about packing around a bunch of CDs. Now you could choose your favorite songs, and even make a “playlist” now. Say so long to the mixtapes and mix CDs, playlists are now the norm.
The Microsoft Zune completely failed for whatever reason. Truthfully it wasn’t much different than an iPod in my opinion. Zunes became extinct very quick, I’m not completely sure what caused the failure but the iPods just completely destroyed it iPod shows us how listening to music has changed.
iPods and Smartphones
iTunes playlists and iPods is it still as big today as it was whenever it first started. Although these days I completely hate iTunes and the “App” Store. I, however, cannot deny how incredibly popular it is. The only iPod I’ve ever bought was the iPod touch which introduced quality sound and plenty of storage. The iPhone 3 started taking over soon after iPods and iPod touches became popular. For what it’s worth now it seems like the standard “mp3/ipods” has almost become extinct. You can now add mp3s to any current smartphone available in 2018 you can see how listening to music has changed.
I never would’ve thought you could’ve completely gotten rid of MP3s. Now everyone usually just streams a song they want to listen to on the fly. Open up Spotify, Apple Music, 1 of the billion music streaming services out. There you can virtually listen to songs for free with ADs, or pay a monthly subscription. Even use youtube and listen to the Music Video within Seconds.
Listening to music sure has come a long way maybe you can see how listening to music has changed after reading all of this.
It is really incredible just how far the ways we have listened to music has changed. It keeps getting faster and more reliable. As long as technology keeps changing I’m sure the ways that we access music will too.
But, if I’m being honest how much better can it get? If I’m out and about driving around in a car and I want to listen to Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Runnin Down a dream, I can literally listen to it in seconds with a simple search, or voice command. Yes even with my sweet hillbilly accent I can control voice commands with google etc.
I really don’t know how it can get much better to listen to music.
Down below leave a comment, tell us about your experience with your music devices growing up. I’m sure there are some great and genuine stories out there. If there is one thing that I’d want someone to take away from this post, is that without the simple transistor radio. You might not ever be carrying around that “iPhone 20 XRFB+”. Whenever it comes to technology I really like to appreciate where it all came from, the history of it. Hopefully, after reading this you did too and how listening to music has changed.
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