History of sound recording

The history of sound recording - which has progressed in waves, driven by the invention and commercial introduction of new technologies — can be roughly divided into four main periods:

  • The Acoustic era (1877–1925)
  • The Electrical era (1925–1945)
  • The Magnetic era (1945–1975)
  • The Digital era (1975–present).

Thomas Edison, photographed by Mathew Brady in Washington, April 1878

Experiments in capturing sound on a recording medium for preservation and reproduction began in earnest during the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s. Many pioneering attempts to record and reproduce sound were made during the latter half of the 19th century – notably Scott's phonautograph of 1857 – and these efforts culminated in the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison in 1877. Digital recording emerged in the late 20th century and has since flourished with the popularity of digital music and online streaming services.[1]


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