A short history of audio

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Imagine living in the early 20th century, when radio was developing and everyone gathered around the wireless in the evening. Our lives have changed so much, thanks to technological advances in audio over the last century.

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Early days

The early days of audio started in 1877, when the phonograph was invented by Edison. By the early twentieth century, you could find them in people’s homes. Records could store up to twenty minutes of music on each side. Music could be listened to at any time thanks to this amazing technology.

Radio

The BBC opened its first broadcasting station in London in 1922, and several more followed. Regional programming started in the thirties and broadcasts from Normandy and Luxemburg could be heard from the thirties as well. By the mid-forties, the public had a choice of three programmes from the BBC and the choice began to rise thereafter, including pirate radio from the sixties. FM stereo began in the fifties, reaching all regions by the eighties.

Technology helped broaden the reach of radio stations, with DAB radios and internet stations operating from the mid-nineties onwards. Now, audio fans can use their home automation system to access digital radio via the internet in their homes, without tuning or pressing a button.

Beyond the record player

Technology evolved rapidly after the phonograph. When the cassette tape evolved and stereo receivers were invented, you could listen to a variety of formats through your home system. The component stereo offered a turntable, stereo receiver and cassette player in one system – a very early version of an integrated audio home automation system, such as http://digitalinteriors.co.uk/project/home-automation-systems/. These streamlined systems were evolving from the sixties onwards.

The cassette/CD player

The cassette player improved in the seventies and eighties, allowing the user to rewind and fast-forward their music and listen in stereo. The boombox was created to give the best sound possible.

The CD was invented in the eighties, but became common in homes in the nineties. It improved sound quality further and revolutionised music, before being overtaken by the MP3 format, where files are stored on phones, TVs and tablets.

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Wireless speakers have been the latest invention to revolutionise home audio. Using Bluetooth, listeners can connect their speakers to their smartphones or their TVs.

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