The Rise, Fall, and Rise (Again) of the Record Player
The gramophone, more commonly known as a record player, was based off of Thomas Edison’s 1877 design of the phonograph — a tin foil design that played low quality sounds from round cylinders. In 1887, Emile Berliner was able to transfer sound to flat disks (records), and patented his sound recording system.
How Does It Work
As the record rotates on the gramophone, a needle goes through the spiral groves on the record which sends vibrations and sound to the gramophone speaker.
The Rise and Fall
The reason this was much more successful than the phonograph was because the records were able to be mass-produced. A mold was created from the original record which from then, hundreds of records/disks could be pressed and manufactured.
The gramophone increasingly became popular as well-known artists started to record their music with it. In 1901, Berliner partnered with Victor Talking Machine Company to create a new design of gramophones called the Victorla that could easily fit in homes. By the 1950’s most American households had one. In the 1980’s, gramophones started to lose its popularity as cassette tapes became available in the market.
According to Forbes, CD sales have been declining with the introduction of online music streaming platforms, yet vinyl record sales have increased. It has seen a growth of 260% since 2009. In a world of digital platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, it’s interesting to see vinyl records so popular. No one can state the exact cause of the sudden increase in vinyl records, but there are a few theories. It could be caused by nostalgia, better sound, millennial hipsters, reverence of the album, “owning” music, and much more. Today, there are also a wide variety of modern record players available to purchase.
Whatever caused the increase in vinyl records, I’m glad it happened. As someone who is deeply passionate about music, I believe artists should receive credit and profit for their work. Digital media and the Internet makes it so easy to get our hands on music for free these days. I’m guilty of using Spotify, but I do support my favourite artists by buying their CD’s and going to their lives show. It’s nice to see others doing the same.