Recording sound dates back to 1857, when a man from France, invented the phonautograph, used a vibrating pen represented sound graphically on discs of paper. The phonautograph could record, but not play back, sound. Thirty years later, Thomas Edison enhanced this device, called the phonograph, which was able to record and then play back the recorded sound. Thomas Edison’s phonograph, recorded sound waves by indenting them on to a sheet of tinfoil.
Through the 1920′s and 1930′s, the American Telegraphone Company, among others, sold wire recorders, first used at the end of the 19th century. The manufacturers made the recordings on to steel or stainless steel.
Germans developed magnetic tape recording, modeled after magnetic wire recordings. These involved using a long, narrow strip of plastic, with a thin magnetized coating. This was the process used for tape recorders and video tape recorders. Today, tape drives store computer data on magnetic tape.
The original tape recorders were reel-to-reel, and were available at the end of the 1940′s. In 1958, RCA introduced cartridges that held the tape inside a plastic or metal casing. Named Sound Tape or Magazine Cartridge Loading, these did not sell successfully until 1963 with the compact cassette, and in 1965, with the 8-track tapes.
By the time the Compact Disc, or CD, arrived in 1982, 8-track tapes and 8-track tape players, lost favor with consumers. They make CD’s with thick, polycarbonate plastic, using bumps to encode the data. They coat CD’s with thin layers of aluminum to make them reflective, and apply lacquer for protection. A laser beam reads the data on the DC, and reflects it back to a sensor that converts it electronic data.
Parents of teens today would probably admit to having a collection of 8-track tapes. Their grandparents would probably still get a thrill out of watching the reels of tape going round and round while listening to their voices come out of the tiny built-in speakers.