Gramophones and vinyl records brought music into our living rooms, opening up the world of music – be it classical, jazz, rock or pop – to everyone.
1887 marked a milestone in the development of a sound recording technique that had been dreamed of for centuries. That was the year in which Emile Berliner registered a patent for the gramophone. Unlike Edison, right from the start Berliner saw his invention as a device for reproducing music, rather than as a “talking machine” for recording dictated speech.
People have been making music for thousands of years, and every culture has its own tradition. According to the Bible, Jubal was the inventor of the first musical instruments. Music associated with religion was later followed by different genres – secular classical music, folk music, light music, military music and so on…
From 1925 onwards, acoustic-mechanical sound recording and reproduction were largely replaced worldwide by electro-acoustic techniques. This innovation meant that the entire repertoire had to be re-recorded. The public were impressed by the improved sound quality and the record business boomed.
Production of shellac discs ceased at the end of the 1950s. From 1958, long-playing stereo discs made of vinyl brought unprecedented listening enjoyment – it was just like being at a live performance.
The social impact of records is worth highlighting. As the 20th century went on, and ownership of records and record players became widespread, listening to music lost its exclusivity. Even just 100 years ago, only a few privileged people could enjoy listening to high-quality musical performances in concert halls or opera houses, or at open-air venues.
In today’s digital era, many of us no longer buy music in physical formats that we can hold in our hands, and the pride people once felt in owning records has largely disappeared. With the advent of the internet, however, a new and exciting online world of music consumption has opened up to people everywhere. And even though the technology has changed over the years, music continues to move all of us, just has it always has done, in every age and every culture.