Thursday, December 3, 2015

“Music in my own house? Wow!”

OK, turn off the iPod and just listen to this for a minute.

1920s crystal radio

Scientific American went out on a limb 95 years ago and told its readers:
"It has been well known for some years that by placing a form of telephone transmitter in a concert hall or at any point where music is being played the sound may be carried over telephone wires to an ordinary telephone receiver at a distant point, but it is only recently that a method of transmitting music by radio has been found possible."

Crikey, mate. Music through the air!?

Soon after World War I ended, scientists in the United States, Britain and elsewhere were actively experimenting with ways to improve radio technology that would enable its practical transformation into a full-blown communications and entertainment medium.

1920s radio station

A laboratory of the National Bureau of Standards in Washington— it owned station WWV—relied on help from amateur radio operators to explore the technical details of radio transmissions. It had some successes as early as 1919.

Scientific American was ponderously enthusiastic:
"Music can be performed at any place, radiated into the air through an ordinary radio transmitting set and received at any other place, even though hundreds of miles away…the music received can be made as loud as desired by suitable operation of the receiving apparatus…The possibilities of such centralized radio concerts are great and extremely interesting."

Until the 1920s, the only way to hear live music was to go to the concert hall. The only way to hear whatever music you chose, any time you chose, was to own the record and a phonograph machine.

Let’s not even get started on television.

Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.

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