With vinyl records making a powerful comeback, we take the time to follow the journey of this media format, now seemingly reborn for younger generations. From Edison and RCA, right through to recently released figures, a musical timeline.
1877 – Thomas Edison creates first phonograph to record and play sound.
1881 – Charles Tainter makes first lateral-cut records.
1888 – Emile Berliner invents gramophone to play 7- inch discs.
1906 – The Victor Talking Machine Company introduces ‘Victrola’,an upright playing machine.
1921 – Popularity of radio causes a dip in record sales.
1921 – Independent record companies can now make their own lateral cut records.
1930 – Bing Crosby releases ‘I Remember Dear’.
1939 – Magnetic tape to record sound is invented.
1940 – Vinyl is now used to make records, not shellac.
1951 – The first jukebox playing 7-inch 45 rpm records.
1963 – The first compact audio cassette.
1975 – The scratch is invented.
1980s– 12- inch disco records contribute to the rise of House
1982- The first digital CD discs are marketed.
1988 – For the first time, CDs outsell records. CDs and cassettes become dominant musical formats.
2001 – The turntable is formally recognised as an instrument.
It is now 2016 – The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) releases figures showing vinyl sales earned the record industry £2.4m in week 48 of 2016 with downloads only producing £2.1m.
It’s entirely possible the alleged resurgence of vinyl has been overstated.
Perfect Duluth Day reported today that The Vinyl Cave in Superior, Wis., is closing at the end of the year.
“It costs me money to be part of this now,” owner Tom Johnson, who opened the store after retiring from the railroad a few years ago, tells PDD. “Let’s face it, we’re selling old records to people in Duluth and Superior. It’s not like we’re in New York or L.A. or Chicago or even Minneapolis where there’s a lot of people and a lot of money. There’s just not enough people here to keep it going anymore.”
If there were a market for vinyl records, Johnson and his business partner wouldn’t be sitting on 10,000 albums and 300,000 singles hoping a single fan wouldn’t write a check for the lot of them.
Co-owner Tom Unterberger will move some of them to a store he owns next door. The vinyl record section will replace a greeting cards display. You think fans of vinyl are hard to find, the greeting card business isn’t exactly booming either, apparently.
What’s the problem? There are people who want vinyl albums; there just aren’t the vinyl albums they want in circulation.
“It’s Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac and CCR,” Johnson said. “It’s the heavy metal and hair bands from the ’80s. That’s what people are looking for now and it’s harder to find. We’re not able to restock like we used to.”
In other words: It’s what’s sitting in a box under the stairs of nearly every Baby Boomer right now.
Todd Thomas from “The Silver Thread”
1: what do you collect and why?
I collect mostly collect 1960s, 1970s and 1980s rock, punk and underground rock but also with a little 1950s and 1960s jazz thrown in. In addition, I purchase many new releases on vinyl too.However, no matter what period or genre if it sounds great I will buy it.
2: How big is your collection?
My collection is around 300 records. It is not a massive collection. I have to be selective with my purchases. I only have so much storage room in my apartment.
3: Whats that elusive gem you are always looking for?
At the moment, I do not have any elusive gems I am looking for. I enjoy looking through bins and finding a surprise. Like a record that may have been mentioned in magazine by a favorite musician, etc that turns out to be a buy and listening- if it sounds great. But a mint original Love ‘Forever Changes’ would be a nice find.
4: How do you track stuff down?
I mainly shop at Jerry’s Records, Juke Records and Desolation Row in Pittsburgh, PA.
5: How often do you listen to your collection?
I try to listen all the time. But it is difficult with every new purchase. There are never enough hours in the day.
6: Barring some kind of situation when you die under a pile of fallen records, how do you think you will eventually dispose of your records?
I will sell it, hand it down or be cremated with it and my relatives can scatter my ashes with it. If that is even possible.
7: Whats your all time favorite record, regardless of rarity?
All time favorite record-The Velvet Underground’s third self titled LP.
The Silver Thread release “Strange Currents” Saturday November 19th
At Howlers, Pittsburgh w/ The Me Toos & Benefits
Photo by Philp Morris from his book, “It’s a long way from acca dacca to zappa”