A scant few decades ago, people were listening to music on the radio. The family would crowd around the radio and listen to whatever was being played. People who could afford it would buy music-playing machines. There were machines that played tubular shaped recordings, and those that played records.
Turntables Were Turning
The first really marketable records turned on the turntable at a speed of 78 RPM (revolutions per minute). They were heavy, thick, and very breakable. Later, a 33 1/3 RPM version was invented and music really took off. The more accessible 33s were less expensive, easier to use, and less fragile. Soon, 45 RPM records were developed and the world of popular music exploded into a huge industry. Even teenagers and younger children were able to handle and play 45s.
Carry Your Music With You
In the 60′s, the transistor radio was developed. Teenagers everywhere were thrilled to be able to carry their music with them. True, there were portable record players, but the transistor radios were cordless and the advent of the popular disc jockey, talking in a language the kids could relate to, added to the listening experience.
In the 1970s, the prerecorded cassette tape was introduced. It revolutionized the accessibility and portability of music. Music fans could now take their music on cassette tapes with them wherever they went, to the beach, a picnic, or to a friend’s house to share their newest purchase. With blank tapes, they could even record their own choice selections from the radio. The portable cassette player was king.
Eventually the cassette player became yet more portable and versatile when the Sony Walkman and other pocket-sized versions were marketed. You could walk or jog with your favorite tunes. Some models were produced that could even be used in the rain or in the shower.
The Short-Lived 8-Track
In the 60s and 70s, the 8-track cassette was created. It was an enclosed version of the cassette tape that didn’t really take off in popularity. It was bulkier, required a special player, and the original music on it could not be recorded over.
Introducing the CD
In the early 80s, the CD was developed as a media for music. Its ease of use, portability, and extreme versatility has made it one of the most successful mediums for music since the record. A music CD can be played in a CD player, a computer, some DVD players, and even game boxes. There were mini-discs created with the same principle, but they didn’t become very popular and soon died out.
Beyond the Physical
Nowadays, you can acquire music without the necessity of a physical record, cassette, or CD. You can download music electronically from the Internet and transfer your music to a computer, a CD, your telephone, or one of many other electronic devices available.
Technology has not only changed the way we listen to music; it’s also changed what music we listen to. No longer are we limited to purchased music; we can also listen to music created by individuals who’ve never sold a CD. Simply by uploading their music to the Internet, a musician or singer can expose his or her music to the world. A prospective fan can listen to the music and transfer it to their computer, phone, or other device. The new fan can also purchase music from the performer’s catalog.
It’s a very music-friendly generation we live in, indeed. Technology has not only radically changed the way we listen to music, but how and where we get it and store it.