Timeline of audio formats

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An audio format is a medium for sound recording and reproduction. The term is applied to both the physical recording media and the recording formats of the audio content—in computer science it is often limited to the audio file format, but its wider use usually refers to the physical method used to store the data.

Music is recorded and distributed using a variety of audio formats, some of which store additional information.

Timeline of audio format developments[edit]

Year Physical media formats Recording formats
1860 Phonautogram
The famous phonautogram created in 1859 is the first recording ever made
Mechanical analog; sound waveform transcribed to paper or glass
1883 Piano roll
A piano roll used in a player piano
Mechanical digital (Vacuum operated piano)
1886 Music Box disc
8'' disc for playback on a music box
Mechanical digital (Vacuum operated music box)
Late

1880s

Brown Wax Cylinder
A collection of brown wax cylinders, vertical-groove
Mechanical analog; vertical grooves, vertical stylus motion - could be re-recorded
Organ Cob
An organ cob used in a player organ
Mechanical digital (Vacuum operated organ)
Ediphone, Dictaphone
A Dictaphone cylinder for voice recording
Mechanical analog, the Ediphone and subsequent wax cylinders used in Edison's other product lines continued to be sold up until 1929 when the Edison Manufacturing Company folded.
Phonograph disk (Emile Berliner Patent) Mechanical analog; lateral grooves, horizontal stylus motion
1894 Pathé cylinder
The vertical-groove pathé cylinder
Mechanical analog; vertical grooves, vertical stylus motion
1898 Wire recording
A spool of steel wire used in early dictation recorders
Analog; magnetization; DC bias
1901 10'' 78rpm Record
78rpm record - playable on modern turntables
Mechanical analog; lateral grooves, horizontal stylus motion - made from shellac
1902 Edison Gold Moulded Record
Edison's "gold moulded" black wax cylinder record
Mechanical analog; vertical grooves, horizontal stylus motion - made from hard black wax - 160rpm standard - 100 threads per inch
1903 12'' 78rpm record Mechanical analog; lateral grooves, horizontal stylus motion
Gramophone Postcard
A gramophone post card, playable on 78rpm turntables
Mechanical analog; lateral grooves, horizontal stylus motion
1905 Centre-start phonograph Record
A modern vinyl LP with a centre-start cut
Mechanical analog; lateral grooves, horizontal stylus motion, starts from the centre of the disc
Pathé Disc
The vertical-groove pathé disc
Mechanical analog; vertical grooves, vertical stylus motion
1907 Indestructible Record
Indestructible Record cylinder, vertical groove. Constructed of black celluloid on a cardboard core with metal bands at each end
Mechanical analog; vertical grooves, vertical stylus motion - made from black celluloid with cardboard and inner metal bands
1908 Amberol Cylinder Record
The Edison "Amberol" cylinder record, vertical groove
Mechanical analog; vertical grooves, vertical stylus motion - made from hard black wax - 160rpm standard - 200 threads per inch
1912 Diamond Disc
The Edison vertical-groove "diamond disc"
Mechanical analog; vertical grooves, vertical stylus motion - made from shellac
Blue Amberol cylinder record
The Edison vertical-groove "Blue Amberol" cylinder
Mechanical analog; vertical grooves, vertical stylus motion - made from blue celluloid with plaster of paris core - 160rpm standard - 200 threads per inch
1925 Electrical cut record Mechanical analog; electrically cut from amplified microphone signal, lateral grooves, horizontal stylus motion, discs at 7", 10", 12", most at 78 rpm
1930 Filmophone flexible record
A red Filmophone record
Mechanical analog; lateral groove, horizontal stylus movement - made from cellulose of various colours - 78rpm
1930s Reel-to-reel, magnetic tape
Studio master tape reel
Analog; magnetization; AC "bias" dramatically increases linearity/fidelity, tape speed at 30 ips, later 15 ips and other refined speeds: 7½ ips, 3¾ ips, 1⅞ ips
Electrical transcriptions Mechanical analog; electrically cut from amplified microphone signal, high fidelity sound, lateral or vertical grooves, horizontal or vertical stylus motion, most discs 16" at 33⅓ rpm
1932 Durium Record
A brown Durium 78rpm record
Mechanical analog; lateral groove - made from a brown resin ("Durium)
1942 SoundScriber
Green, vertical groove Sound Scriber disks
Mechanical Analog; vertical groove, 4–6 inch discs, it recorded sound by pressing grooves into soft vinyl discs
1947 Dictabelt (Memobelt)
A blue Dictabelt record
Analog, medium consisting of a thin, plastic belt 3.5" wide that was placed on a cylinder and rotated like a tank tread, developed by the Dictaphone company in 1947
1948 Vinyl LP record (Columbia)
A Vinyl LP record
Analog, with preemphasis and other equalization techniques (LP, RIAA); lateral grooves, horizontal stylus motion; discs 7", 10" and 12" at 33⅓ rpm, 1st LP Columbia ML 4001 Milstein, Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
1949 Vinyl 45 record (RCA)
A 7'' 45rpm record
Analog 45 rpm vinyl 7" disk, first 45 pressed "PeeWee the Piccolo" RCA 47-0147 Indianapolis
1950 Tefifon
A Tefifon cartridge with red vinyl tape
Electro-mechanical analog, vinyl belt housed in a cassette, used an embossing technique using a stylus to imprint the information, was the first thing to resemble a modern audio cassette
16 2/3rpm vinyl record
A label close-up on a 16rpm vinyl
Mechanical analog; lateral groove, horizontal stylus motion - played at half the regular speed of an LP
1951 Minifon P55
A single wire reel for a Minifon playback device
Analog, magnetic wire on reel, 30 cm/s or about 11.8 ips was quickly adopted by many governments as being the ultimate "spy" recorder of its day
1957 Stereophonic vinyl record
An early stereo record label
Analog, with pre-emphasis and other equalization techniques. Combination lateral/vertical stylus motion with each channel encoded 45 degrees to the vertical
1957 Dictet
The very first audio cassette, made for dictation purposes
Analog, ¼ tape, 2.48 in/s, (3" reels housed 5.875 x 3 x .4375 inch cassette), developed by the Dictaphone Corp, was the very first dictation machine to use magnetic tape cassettes
1958 RCA tape cartridge (Sound Tape) (Magazine Loading Cartridge)
The cassette format created by RCA
Analog, ¼ inch wide tape (stereo & mono), 3¾ in/s & 1.875 in/s, one of the first attempts to offer reel-to-reel tape recording quality in a convenient format for the consumer market
1959 NAB Cart Tape (Fidelipac)
The cartridge known as a "Fidelipac"
Analog, ¼ inch wide tape in cartridge, 7½ in/s & 15 in/s, Introduced in 1959 by Collins Radio, the cart tape format was designed for use by radio broadcasters to play commercials, bumpers and announcements
1962 4-Track (Muntz Stereo-Pak)
4-Track Cartridges of various sizes
Analog, 14-inch-wide (6.4 mm) tape, 3¾ in/s, endless-loop cartridge
1963 Compact cassette
Variants of the Compact Cassette
Analog, with bias. 0.15 inches (3.81 mm) tape, 1⅞ ips. 1970: introduced Dolby noise reduction
1964 Sanyo Micro Pack 35
Channel Master 6546
Westinghouse H29R1
The micro pack recording system, intended for dictation
¼ inch wide tape housed in a transparent cartridge measuring 2.6 x 2.9 x 1.9 inches, tape was stored on two reels residing atop one another, keeping the cartridge compact
1964 Sabamobil A cartridge format for embedding and easy handling usual 3-inch-tape-reels with ¼ inch tape, compatible to reel-to-reel audio recording in 3¾ ips.
1965 8-Track (Stereo-8)
The inside of an 8-track cartridge
Analog, ¼ inch wide tape, 3¾ in/s, endless-loop cartridge
DC-International system Analog cassette format introduced by Grundig, Telefunken and Blaupunkt: 120 x 77 x 12 mm cassette with ¼ inch wide tape run at 5.08cm per second.
1966 PlayTape Analog, ⅛ inch wide tape, endless-loop cartridge, introduced by Frank Stanton
1969 Microcassette
A comparison of sizes for the Microcassette and Minicassette
Analog, ⅛ inch wide tape, used generally for note taking, mostly mono, some stereo (developed in the early '80s). 2.4 cm/s or 1.2 cm/s
Minicassette Analog, ⅛ inch wide tape, used generally for note taking, 1.2 cm/s
1970 Quadraphonic 8-Track (Quad-8) (Q8)
A Quadraphonic 8-Track Cartridge
Analog, ¼ inch wide tape, 3¾ in/s, 4-channel stereo, endless-loop cartridge
1971 Quadraphonic Vinyl Record (CD-4) (SQ Matrix)
An SQ quadraphonic record
Analog, introduced by CBS Records

Recorded two tracks on both stereo channels, requiring a decoder to hear all four tracks. Despite this, the format is playable on any LP turntable.

1971 HiPac Analog, a successor of the 1966 PlayTape, using tape width of the 1963 Compact Cassette, Japan only
1976 Dolby Stereo cinema surround sound Analog
Elcaset
Elcaset (left) compared to a typical compact cassette (right)
Analog, name comes from "L-Cassette/Large Cassette"
1978 LaserDisc
Close-up of grooves on a LaserDisc
Analog; vertical groove, read by a laser
1982 Compact Disc (CD-DA)
The underside of a compact disc
Digital. Linear PCM (LPCM)
1983 Betamax Digital Audio
A Betamax tape
Digital
1986 High Definition Compatible Digital (HDCD)
An HDCD album
Digital. Redbook compatible physical CD containing 20–24 bit information (uses linear pulse-code modulation (LPCM)
1987 Digital Audio Tape (DAT)
A DAT tape
Digital.

This audio format famously caused controversy among recording companies when released due to the potential of perfect digital copies to increase piracy[1]

1988 AIFF (File Format) Digital. Audio Interchange File Format (AIFF)
1992 Digital Compact Cassette (DCC)
A Digital Compact Cassette
Digital, ⅛ inch wide tape, 1⅞ in/s, introduced by Philips and Matsushita in late 1992, marketed as the successor to the standard analog compact cassette
WAV (File Format) Digital. named after the waveform created by a sound wave
Dolby Digital Cinema Sound Digital. also known as Dolby Stereo Digital until 1994
MiniDisc (MD)[2]
A red, translucent MiniDisc cartridge
Digital. Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding (ATRAC)
1993 DTS, SDDS, MP3 (File Formats) Digital. Digital Theatre System (DTS), Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS), MPEG-1 Audio Layer III (MP3)
1994 TwinVQ Digital.
1995 RealAudio[2]
1997 DVD
A stack of DVD RW disks
Digital. Dolby Digital, Digital Theatre System (DTS)
DTS-CD Digital. DTS Audio
1999 DVD-Audio Digital. Including Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP), Linear PCM (LPCM), Dolby Digital (AC-3) and Digital Theatre System (DTS)
Super Audio CD (SACD) Digital. Direct Stream Digital
WMA (File Format) Digital. Windows Media Audio
TTA (File Format) Digital. The True Audio Lossless Codec
2000 FLAC (File Format) Digital. Free Lossless Audio Codec
APE (File Format) Digital. Monkey's Audio
2001 AAC (File Format) Digital. Advanced audio coding
2003 DualDisc
One side DVD, one side CD - It's the DualDisc
Digital. Multiple formats encoded onto the same disc
2004 ALE or ALAC (File Formats) Digital. Apple Lossless
2005 HD DVD
An HD DVD
Digital. Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio
2006 Blu-ray Disc
Blu-Ray discs and their containers
Digital. Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio
2008 slotMusic
A SlotMusic microSD card: an early attempt to sell pre-recorded music on an SD card
Digital. Usually at 320 kbit/s MP3 on microSD or microSDHC
Blu-spec CD Digital. PCM

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The challenge of introducing digital audio tape technology into consumer markets". Technology in Society. 12 (1): 91–100. 1990-01-01. doi:10.1016/0160-791X(90)90031-7. ISSN 0160-791X. 
  2. ^ a b Cornell University Library (2003). "Digital Preservation and Technology Timeline". Digital Preservation Management. USA. Retrieved February 28, 2017. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]