Innovation How technology is changing the way we listen to music forever

This should get you to appreciate how the inquisitive mind of man has embraced science and tech to improve the way music is consumed.

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play American Hip-hop group Beastie boys (stereo2go)
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Music has become a mainstay for those that embrace it, and is being consumed in many ways.

We know the average Joe is too busy catching the vibe to be bothered about how the amazing experience of listening to his favorite songs was brought about.

Hence why this article was curated, to appreciate how the inquisitive mind of man has embraced science and tech to improve the way music is consumed.

Today headphones and earphones have become fashion statements, with celebrity endorsements of brand headphones such as Koss Beatlephones as far back as the 1960s to a Beats by Dre coming into play in the mid-2000s. And headphones are just part of the story.

There is an interesting history that went into making these set of devices with the US military said to be the pioneering users.

Headphones originated from earpieces, which were firstly developed in 1919 by a man called Nathaniel Baldwin, made by hands right in his kitchen, and got them sold to the US Navy.

In 1937, a German company Beyerdynamic invented the first dynamic headphones termed the DT-48 (Dynamic Telephone 48). The adoption of the device was minimal, despite the surprisingly good quality of the headphones which are still being produced today.

play A 12 inch LP vinyl record (Wikipedia)

 

1948 saw American record label Columbia Records  introduce  vinyl or LP records which was a long play analog sound storage medium. Scratches, heat and dust are factors said to be able to affect the quality output of a vinyl record, otherwise, vinyls could last for centuries. The capacity of music the LP vinyl record could hold originally stood at  23 minutes per side, but later increased by several minutes, much longer possible with very low signal level.

play Vintage Aiwa Mark IV 10-Transistor Radio, Three Band (AM-FM-SW), Made In Japan. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

1954 saw the development of AM transistor radios after the invention of transistors in 1947. Their popularity soon sank with smartphones which had radio installed in them.  However, transistor radios are still popular for news, talk radio, weather, live sporting events and emergency alert applications.

1958 saw a Milwaukee-based Jazz musician by name John C Koss invented the first stereo headphones designed for listeners to play and enjoy stereo albums from the comfort of their homes.

The 1960s and 70s saw Koss dominate the US market with headphones weighing as much as 3-5 lbs.

Celebrity endorsements was part of Koss’ strategy to make the headphones appeal to the consumers, with popular English rock band The Beatles in 1966 endorsing the brand – the product Koss Beatlephones emerging.

play Cassettes of varying tape quality and playing time. (Wikipedia)

 

1962 was the year of the cassette or tape as we know it. Developed by Philips in Hasselt, Belgium. This compact cassettes came in two forms, already containing content either as a pre-recorded cassette or as a fully recordable ''blank'' cassette.  The advent of CDs in the early 1990s soon saw the decline of the cassette.

The Boombox device  was also developed by the inventor of the audio compact cassette, Philips of the Netherlands. Their first 'Radiorecorder' was released in 1966.

play A man holding a boombox at Chicago's 16th Annual Gay & Lesbian Pride Parade, June 1985. (Photo by Alan Light)

 

A boombox (the radio-cassette players) typically receives radio stations and plays recorded music (usually cassettes or CDs at a high volume). Many models are also capable of recording ('dubbing') onto cassette tapes from radio and other sources. Most boomboxes were battery-operated, leading to extremely heavy, bulky boxes.. Portable music players like the Sony Walkman led to the decline in sale of boomboxes.

play The Beastie Boys embraced boomboxes as a signature. (Beastie Boys)

 

Boomboxes were a part of the Hip-hop culture. Common amongst black and Hispanic youths, boomboxes were used in music battles. Termed "Ghetto blasters", American Hip-hop group The Beastie Boys embraced boomboxes as a signature of theirs.

1968 saw an improvement in the Koss headphones with the Koss EP/6 having lower weight and less interference. They were the first electrostatic headphones produced which were relatively safe for the consumer from electric shock.

play Some products of the Walkman line (2006). (Wikipedia)

 

1979 birthed the era of truly portable headphones, the Sony Walkman pioneered this movement. This invention is credited to Andreas Pavel in 1977. It was music-on-the-go for the stylish music lover.

play CDs could hold up to 80 minutes of uncompressed audio. (Pixabay/Werbefabrik)

 

In 1982 came the Compact Disc, CD which was capable of holding up to 80 minutes of uncompressed audio, having a storage capacity than most computers. This also killed off cassette tapes for good. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the CD craze would wear off.

play Bluetooth technology enhanced the mobility of music with the Bluetooth speakers. (Pixabay/Stocksnap)

 

Bluetooth technology came through in 1989, invented by Swedes Nil Rydbeck and Johan Ullman for the purpose of developing wireless headsets. This only added the beauty to the mobility of music. It would take another decade for Bluetooth speakers to be the ‘in-thing’.

play The first set of MP3 players could only hold 32MB of space. (Pixabay/Herbert2512)

 

With 1998 came the MP3 players that changed the way we listened to music, but the conception of this started in 1981 by a British inventor and businessman named Kane Kramer. The first set of MP3 players made available to the public were thick, bulky and could only store a handful of songs (32MB of memory space).

The 2000s saw the earbuds get popular with the production of Apple iPods. The downside was they could not isolate the sound well, which forced volume to be turned up to compensate.

This soon saw the transition of buds to earphones that fitted well into the ear canal, making for better isolation and lesser volume.

play Spotify is a digital music service that gives you access to millions of songs. (Pixabay/Photo-Mix)

 

In 2001, streaming sites like Spotify began to come around, with downloading of music (which has been the norm) starting to give away. You only need to get a monthly subscription for accessing a large catalog of music, and playing to your heart’s content given favorable internet quality and subscription.

The headphones soon wore a modern fashionable look and suggested higher quality with likes of Skull Candy in 2003, V-Moda by Val Kolton launched at a fashion show in Hollywood dubbed “hearwear”; Trueblood MAKER, Trueblood V-80 and TrueBlood REVAMP brands of earphones becoming quite popular.

play Beatsbydre wireless headphones (Beatsbydre.com)

 

In 2008, Beats by Dr. Dre by Monster which would be eventually sold to Apple got endorsements from Justin Bieber, Diddy, Monster also rolled out “Heartbeats” by Lady Gaga in 2009 and in 2010 Powerbeats” a line of sports performance headphones endorsed by LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, among others.

Hip-hop musician 50 cent in 2012 too came out with his own line of headphones for SMS Audio: SYNC by 50 Wireless and STREET by 50-wired-in-ear and over-ear headphones.

play DropMix is a fast-paced music-mixing game from Hasbro and Harmonix that lets users blend together popular songs while facing off with friends. (Mashable)

 

In 2017 DropMix, a fast-paced music-mixing game from Hasbro and Harmonix that lets users blend together popular songs while facing off with friends, is now available for pre-order in the U.S. at DropMix.com and in stores September 24.

With little entry knowledge of music skills required, the game lets players discover their hidden talents as they compete with friends mixing popular songs from artists in real time.

With technology and the insatiable curiosity of man, you can be sure there is never a place to settle for how music will be consumed.

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