Evolution of the gramophone

As domestic improvements continue, more strange little books continue to turn up. Now here is one that is entirely suited to me, but I have no idea where it came from or when. It’s not much more than a pamphlet and it has the title, ‘Evolution of the Gramophone’ and a subtitle of ‘From the Phonograph to the Electrogram’.

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As we can see, this little publication came out to accompany an exhibition staged by the Army and Navy Stores on Victoria Street in London, by arrangement with His Master’s Voice.

I’m afraid I have no idea when this exhibition took place but I guess at the early 1950s.

Inside we have pictures and a brief description of each exhibit. This is a page of oldies!

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Up in my loft I have the works but not the horn of an HMV Junior Monarch (I think). I really ought to see if I could make something of it

If we look to the back of the booklet we can see what was, presumably, modern at the time.

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The way recorded sound has changed in my lifetime beggars my belief. In my own home we never had any kind of gramophone until I started collecting, but I know that the basic unit for sound was still the 78rpm record allowing about three minutes of music per side on a 10 inch diameter disc. Long playing records existed but it wasn’t until towards the end of the 1950s that the old 78s were really swept into oblivion.

I remember stereo arriving. An elderly friend was the first person I knew with a stereo player and if you sat in his room in a specific place you could hear sound coming from two places. It never seemed to matter to me.

Reel to reel tapes came and went because the much more convenient cassettes proved capable of giving adequate quality. The Walkman arrived on the scene as part of the Japanese invasion.

And then, in the 1980s, we moved from analogue to digital with the CD. The tape people tried to join in (remember digital audio tape (DAT)?

Now, it seems, the CD has had its day as music storage has become tied up with computing. MP3 players seemed to come and go as ever more wonderful devices hit the stores. And now you don’t even need to hit the stores to purchase music. You can just hit ‘download’ instead.

And of course, stereo isn’t enough now. We need surround sound. But when I say ‘we need’ I tend to mean ‘other people seem to need’. I still love my good old 78s and even if I play them on a 1950s electric gramophone, it is still just a mono device.

I guess I do live a bit in the dark ages when it comes to sound and music.

 

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