Record Player

From Gramophones to Grammies: A Brief History of Record Players

Vinyl record player history dates back to November 21, 1877 when Thomas Alva Edison announced his invention of the first phonograph, a device for recording and replaying sound. He demonstrated the device for the first time on November 29 (it was patented on February 19, 1878 as US Patent 200,521).

Record Player

Emile Berliner patented his Gramophone in 1887. Although the gramophone produced a superior audio, the invention of radio threatened to bankrupt the entire recording industry. Big record companies were struggling to keep recordings alive, when they got serious help by the invention of LP records and 45 rpm records, which could play an entire symphony or a single pop song respectively. The newer formats boosted sales tremendously and became the standard for the industry. Nearly all records of today are one of either formats.

Record Player from the 70's

By the 1960s and 1970s, records had swept the nation and become as American as apple pie. Technology contributed greatly to this, as by this point records had become precise machines capable of beautifully high fidelity, multiple records stacking for convenience and fully customizable hardwood bodies for travel as well as durability. Records themselves became an art form because of the large surface onto which graphics and books could be printed, and records could be molded into unusual shapes, colors, or with images (picture discs). The vinyl record player remained a common element of home audio systems well after the introduction of other media such as audiotape and even the early years of the compact disc as a lower priced music format.

Modern Turntable

Today, the vinyl record and record player have slowly been phased out by cheaper and more modern technology. However, vinyl still holds a place in the hearts of those who grew up around this medium. Collectors from all over the world work to expand their collections and preserve those records that have lasted past their primetimes. Perhaps most interesting, records have made a surprising comeback among younger generations. Young men and woman in there 20s and 30s are beginning to hit garage sales and flea markets with only one thing on their minds. Disk Jockeys and those you play live music in clubs have also played a role in the resurgence of vinyl records. Many DJs prefer to play music using vinyl, as the peculiars of the format allow for rhythmic scratching, an effect that is created by quickly rotating the record under the stylus (needle). With the sudden popularity of vinyl on the rise, it is had to tell what the future holds for this beloved and unique musical format.

Record Reactivated