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Evolution of Music Technology

Music technology is becoming increasingly precise and everyday newer technology is replacing the older one. Previously, music was the only source of entertainment and it was a community event to listen to new tracks by gathering together at one place with a radio or a vinyl player. Today even big names in the business, like MTV are facing a downfall due to the digital era and the constantly reinventing world of YouTube.

First came Vinyl Records. Sound could be recorded and reproduced only in 2877 when the phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison. Then came the gramophone and thus began the purists’ long journey of asserting that vinyl records are still the best. Headphones followed and have been a life saviour for generations from way back as 1910! Even though they were bulky and uncomfortable initially, today we have the most graceful headphones and earphones which has made life simpler. Then followed the FM Radio, with broadcasts from as early as the 1930’s and became the preferred choice of many a household to listen to old classics and discover new music too. FM gave the listeners less static than AM and by 1978 had become supremely commonplace.

In between the growth of FM Radio, came the phenomenal cassette decks or the “compact cassette,” in 1962. This was the time when audio company Dolby developed its noise and the first cassette players from Advent, Fisher and Harman Kardon debuted in 1970. This took the music world by storm and music by top artists shifted from vinyl LP’s to cassette tapes. With the advent of cassette tapes, in came car tape decks next. The automobile market really pushed forward the growth of cassettes and in late 1970 cassette players were installed in some cars and were an instant hit because of its compactness.

 One of the most iconic devices of the 90’s has to be the Sony Walkman launched in 1979. The Walkman made music portable and it was the gadget to own. Even though it was replaced by the advent of the digital era, there is no way the iconic status of the Walkman can be downplayed. Then came Compact Discs or CD’s which had much more storage ability and were sleeker too. It was brought in my Philips and Sony in 1982 and the personal computer era made this one a real game changer and they were all the rage till early 2000’s.

 1989 brought in more portability with Bluetooth making music more mobile than ever and it is till date making possible the use of wireless speakers, headphones and even hands free driving. The invention of the MP3 player in 1998 has to be a huge development in the industry and the small size of music files easily downloadable, paved way for smarter music listening in the years to come. Though the initial MP3 players were big and bulky with as less as 32 MB of space, it was the Apple boom with its range of iPods that truly made carrying around an entire music library of as vast as 5000 songs a reality.

With the internet available in every household, the need to store music has passed and everyone is streaming music popularised by Spotify, Apple Music, Saavn, Hungama and innumerable other websites. Not to forget YouTube which has millions of hits in a day and every musician today has their own channel on the website too.

Music has come a long way from the turntable to everything available at the touch of a screen. While the technology giants battle it out, it is up to us the consumers to reap the benefits.

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