Home » inventions » First audio and video recordings

First audio and video recordings

Magnetic recording was invented in 1898 by Valdemar Poulson of Denmark. But it wasn’t used for recording music. Called the “telegraphone,” it was used to record telephone messages by applying magnetic pulses to a steel wire.

The process of recording onto a membrane or thin paper was invented earlier, in 1857, by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. Called the phonautograph, at that time it could not, however, replay the sound. But it did inspire Thomas Edison, Emile Berliner and others to experiment with sound recording. In 1878, Oberlin Smith made the first mechanical recording of sound. Motivated by a visit to Edison’s laboratory, Smith recorded Jules Levy playing Yankee Doodle on a cornet.

The patent for the invention of the phonograph was awarded to Berliner in 1887. But the recording format of choice would become the iron oxide-coated tape, a paper version of which was invented in 1927 by Joseph A. O’Neill and a film version of which was invented in 1928 by Fritz Pfleumer. It was Pfleumer’s version that was awarded a patent in 1929, heralding the age of the audiotape.

The tape recorder, or “magnetophone”, was invented in 1936, the year that the Volkswagen Beetle was launched. Dutch company Philips introduced the audio cassette in 1963.

Ampex VR-1000

1958: KRLD’s Bill Honeycutt and Ampex VR-1000

First video recorder weighed as much as a small car

The video recording machine was invented by the Ampex corporation of California in 1956. The first video recorder, the Ampex VR1000, stood 3 ft 3 in (1,1 m) high [or more than 6ft when fully assembled] and weighed as much as a small car: 1,466 lb (665 kg). The home video recorder was introduced in 1972 by Philips. JVC introduced the VHS system in 1976. Sony introduced the first handheld film camera, the Sony Mavica camcorder, in 1981.

The first DVD players were launched in 1996. By 2003, DVD rentals and sales topped those of VHS video and by 2005 the big retailers phased out VHS in favor of DVD.

A movie made about 5 times more from its video sales than ticket takings and that trend has continued with DVD. About one quarter of movie DVDs sold are animations.

The word “video” is from the Latin verb “videre” meaning “I see”.

Video recording today

The introduction of video recording capabilities on digital cameras and mobile phones spiraled home video recording. J-Phone launched the first cell phone with a camera in 2001. Two years later the camera phone had outsold stand-alone digital cameras and by 2006 had outsold all cameras, film and digital. (Cell phones, rather than watches, has also become the preferred means of telling time.) More than half of all new cell phones are equipped with cameras, most capable of video recording, using the 3GP and 3GGP2 formats which are based on the MPEG-4 file format.

A third of American mobile phone users record video on their phone, according to a Pew report. In France, a third of online videos are watched on a mobile phone. More than 100 millions mobile videos are steamed daily from YouTube Mobile.

The first pop music video

The first musical film was made in 1896 by George Thomas. It was a series of still shots depicting the song The Little Lost Child by Edward B. Marks and Joseph W. Stern. Basically, it was an illustrated song. The first moving image music film was made in 1923 by Lee De Forest. The first pop video was Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, released in 1975.

Image of Ampex VR-1000 from akdart.com who kindly added:
The VR-1000 was almost a miracle in its day, but it really was primitive. It really was difficult to get the machine to make a stable black-and-white picture, and when some later models were modified to “pass” color, the results were just barely adequate for broadcast. To playback its own recording, the machine required six or seven seconds of pre-roll; that is, you had to play the tape six or seven seconds before the picture was stable. The machine was noisy and hot and really huge, so they became very scarce after about 1975.

You may also like -