Sound Bites

1887 Thomas Edison uses a tinfoil cylinder phonograph to record the human voice (singing Mary had a little lamb) for the first time. The original is said to be missing, but a 1927 re-enactment can now be downloaded in MP3 format.

1925 Research pioneered by Western Electric benefits from advancements in microphone and loudspeaker technology. The first electrically recorded discs go on sale, with recordings of whole orchestras.

1948 The first series of 12-inch vinyl LPs is introduced by Columbia Records, offering 20 minutes a side and more durability than previous formats. Within decades, stereo recordings, based on the work of the scientist AD Blumlein in the 1930s, are challenging mono sound.

1963 Philips demonstrates the first compact audio cassettes that rely on high-quality polyester tape, but they are originally marketed for dictation. Three years later, car stereos are equipped with eight-track stereo tape cassette players. In 1969 Dolby B noise reduction is introduced.

1982 Sony and Philips launch the five-inch compact disc. Digital technology opens the door to new sampling techniques in music studios. Within six years, CD sales overtake LP sales - in a decade, CDs become the dominant form of recorded music.

1997 Tomislav Uzelac develops the first successful MP3 player, which uses compressed digital audio files. Four years later Apple Computer uses MP3 technology to launch the iPod.

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