The History and Return of Vinyl

Antonia Kubas, Staff Reporter

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A vinyl record, or phonograph record, is a flat disk with analog sound storage. The disks have modulated spiral grooves which start near the periphery of the disk and continue throughout until reaching near the middle of the disk. In 1877 Thomas Edison first discovered recording and playing back sound in the form of a phonograph. The invention was originally tinfoil over a metal cylinder with grooves. A stylus that reacted to sound vibration indented the tin foil and playing the sound back. The gramophone was produced 1889 by Emile Berliner. The discs where only 5 inches in diameter and the sound quality was so poor that it was most commonly used as a toy and not serious music listening material. Berliner realized that his disks weren’t up to par, so he called upon Eldridge R. Johnson. As a product the Victor Talking Machine Company was formed, with much better quality. These, and lateral disks, took control of the market. In 1925 the quality of disks improved dramatically, recording technology advanced, and music was recorded through a microphone with a vacuum tube to amplify the sound. The disks were originally created out of zinc and dipped in chromic acid, then moved onto a shellac compound, and finally onto vinyl in the beginning of the 1950s.

There were many different sizes for different lengths of music. In 1901 the disks were 5 inches and only played 4 minutes. In 1903 the 12-inch disk was introduced. Vinyl ruled the 20th century until Phillip’s Cassette came along in 1962. This invention could play, pause, rewind, and forward in a click of a button. A lot more convenient than vinyl and played 30-45 minutes of music on each side. In 1974 Phillips designed a more compact cassette tape. This began the digital download of music and started up the CD revolution. Cassettes and CDs then dominated the charts and vinyl’s where out of the picture. CDs sold 150 million, while vinyl originally only sold 72 million.

Fast forward a few centuries and in 2017 there was the highest amount of vinyl’s sold since 1991. 2016 was the ninth consecutive year that vinyl continued to grow. To continue Vinyl’s growth there is an annual day set aside in April to honor them. Records are pressed specifically for this day and distributed to participating stores. This day is for the original vinyl generation and the new generation that is keeping its unique sound alive.


The History of Vinyl Records

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