There is little doubt that the introduction of the digital Compact Disc is the most remarkable step in sound quality improvement since electrical recording, the long-playing record, and the high-fidelity stereo cassette magnetic tape deck. Such evolutions in sound reproduction media make you recall and philosophize about all the years when mechanical music impulses were registered either on revolving cylinders, on flat disks, or on tapes or films wound on a reel. How did these sound carriers evolve and will the next phase be the black box in which solid-state memories put a final end to the visual movement of the sound track? This bird's-eye view is an attempt to present a balanced survey of the role played by important inventors and companies in distant parts of the world. We meet interesting, now little-known contributions to the achievement of "living room presence" or "highest fidelity" such as the electropneumatic reproducing piano and the electromechanical Philips-Miller system, the first tape machine with optical read-out of a sound signal.
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