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A Historical Timeline of Digital Audio Technologies

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Nurul Hussain

on 17 April 2014

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Transcript of A Historical Timeline of Digital Audio Technologies

1937: Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) invented by Alec Reeves
1943: SIGSALY,a PCM encrypted transmission system by Bell Phone Technology Labs
First widely-used program for sound generation.

Invented by Max Mathews at Bell Labs
1957: MUSIC I
The first single channel digital audio recorder was introduced by a Japanese broadcasting company, the NHK.

This set the stage for the popularity of commercial digital recordings in the 1970s.
1960s: Commercial digital recording emerged
In the 1970s, the BBC attempted to improve television broadcast audio quality by using PCM technology.

BBC created 2 important technologies:
(1) a 13-channel PCM system
(2) a 2-channel PCM recorder
1970s: BBC's experiments with PCM technology
SONY invented the first PCM digital audio recording machine

Had a 2 inch wide head and 56 channels. Weighed 250kg. Although never marketed, the way it produced digital sound through the PCM system was revolutionary in audio recording technology.
1974: X-12DTC
The "Walkman" is a portable audio cassette player built in Japan. According to SONY's website, as of March 2009, 385 million units have been sold.

Having started as being a cassette player, it has undergone various changes - throughout it's history since the 1970s, it has been able to play CD ("Discman"), MiniDisc, MP3 and video MP3 formats.
1979: SONY Walkman
1972: First 8-track reel to reel digital recorder
Philips and Sony launched the CD this year. CDs proved to be popular, outselling LPs by the end of the 1980s.
1982: CDs and CD players available commercially
MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a technical standard or protocol that allows different musical instruments to communicate with each other and a computer.

It's benefits include compactness, ease of use and the ability to record and combine multiple instruments
1983: MIDI technology standardized
The Digital Audio Tape used a helial scan technology (from the video cassette) to record up to 4 hours of digital audio on a small-sized cassette.

This technology was later used in computer storage and audio mastering.
1987: Digital Audio Tape, SONY
MPEG stands for the Moving Picture Experts Group, a working committee formed by the ISO to set audio and video compression and transmission standards.
1988: MPEG established as a subcommittee of ISO (International Standard Organization)
Invented by Philips in response to Sony's Digital Audio Tape. Failed to gain much traction or suport.
1992: Digital Compact Cassette, Philips
This standard was originally developed to allow for moving images and sound to be encoded onto a CD.

This standard includes the popular MPEG-1 Audio Layer III(MP3) format of audio compression.
1992: MPEG-1 standard published
The MPEG-2 standard was broader in scope and appeal, partly because it supported high definition. It was chosen as the compression format for high definition broadcast television.
1994: MPEG-2 standard published
Not to be confused with MPEG-3, MP3 is a digital audio encoding format commonly used for audio streaming and storage. It is the standard format that most digital audio players use.

The Fraunhofer Institute initially released this as an audio format in 1995. To give an idea of how much these patents are worth, in 2005 alone, the Institute earned around 100 million Euros in MP3 license revenues.

1996: US patent issued for MP3
MP Man was invented by a South Korean company, and is the 1st portable MP3 player. It was not received well by industry insiders, critics and consumers.

"[The MPMan had] no function other than playing material that was stolen from record companies"
(RIAA's Associate Director of Anti-Copyright infringement)

1998: Saehan's "MP Man"
The Uproar was the 1st phone with an MP3 playback function. It retailed for US$400 in 2001.

This phone set an important precedent in the way music would be consumed from then on: nowadays, the mobile phone has become the "dominant portable music player on the planet, overtaking dedicated MP3 players" (Rogerson 2014).
1999: Samsung's SPH-M2100 (Uproar)
Napster was founded in 1999 by Shawn Fanning in the US.

Napster was a pioneering peer-to-peer file sharing Internet program, which is used commonly to share music (audio MP3 files).

Unfortunately, it faced legal problems with copyright laws, and was declared bankrupt in 2002.
2000: Apple purchased SoundJam MP, later renamed iTunes
The iPod is a portable media player developed by Apple, to be used with th iTunes software. Initially, due to its high price and exclusive Mac OS-compatability, sales were slow prior to 2004.

Eventually, with its high capacity battery, clean user interface, syncing abilities with iTunes and large storage, the iPod came to dominate the digital music player market, accounting for nearly 70% of the market for all types of players in the US.
2001: Apple iPod
MP3 was a format for audio compression, but MP4 could compress both audio and video material. It is a multimedia container, which means it is a standard for multiple kinds of media - including text and images.

It was released to the public in 2003 and is still an evolving standard.
2001: MPEG 4
YouTube is a video sharing social media platform website created in 2005, and then bought over by Google in late 2006.

Although file sharing and online communities pre-dated Napster, YouTube represented a more community-oriented, international and independent kind of music sharing that emphasized audio-visual/video material and original user-uploaded. Furthermore, you didn't need a YouTube music player - it was a platform, a website that was available anytime there was an Internet connection.
2005: YouTube
SoundCloud is an audio distribution platform that works online and allows people to share their original music. Originally conceived as a way for people in the music industry to share music with each other, it has now evolved into a full publishing tool for musicians.

SoundCloud is innovative as it is different from most other on-demand music services. Instead of having the same music files uploaded, the service has a large amount of original, remixed, unreleased, rehearsal and live music created by their users - this is sometimes known as "gray area" music.

An example: https://soundcloud.com/holyghostnyc/blood-orange-youre-not-good-enough-holy-ghost-bootleg
2007: SoundCloud
The History of Digital Audio Technologies
Invented by Denon, a Japanese company.

With this, Denon had introduced the world's first viable 8 channel digital recorder.
Japan & South Korea
Bell Phone Technology Labs

Europe & UK
Fraunhofer Institute
Soundstream is a digital recording company founded by an American University of Utah professor, Dr Thomas Stockham.

The Soundstream system had a 16-bit resolution recorder that allowed it to record music digitally (Fine 2008: 5)
1976: Soundstream
In November 1977, Archie Sheep's recording, "On Green Dolphin Street" became the first fully digital audio commercial recording made in the US (Fine 2008: 6). It was produced by Denon. This Denon-made CD was released in 1984.
1977: First all-digital commercial recording made in the US
3M worked with the BBC to create this system, which when completed, comprised of a 32-track recorder, 4-track mastering deck and a digital editing controller.It cost US$150,000 and was installed in 1979 at various recording studios.

The first commercial album developed by the system was released in 1978. It was called Flim & The BB's, and was recorded by a jazz group of the same name. Another record was called Appalachian Spring, which won a Grammy Award. The system also produced notable pop songs of the time, including 'Bop Till You Drop' by Ry Cooder.

1978: 3M Digital Audio Mastering System
Warning: Explicit Content (Language)
PCM technology is a way to convert standard waveform audio signals to digital audio signals, which are represented by binary code.

The PCM method is popularly and extensively used on most digital audio formats. Even today, digital recording is sometimes called "PCM recording"
Suzanne Vega's song, Tom's Diner, was used by the Institute as a reference track to refine MP3 compression technology.

In some ways, it can be considered the first MP3 ever!
iTunes is a media player and library application developed by Apple.

In 2001, iTunes 1.0 was released in San Francisco.
It has now evolved into an application that can encode music into multiple formats.
Ylvis' The Fox (What does the fox say?) was the top trending video on YouTube in 2013. It now has more than 395 million hits.
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