Here’s how music has changed over time

The sheer number of artistes, music stores and music apps available today all tell you something; music is very important. Have you ever wondered how we got where we are in terms of music? You can stream music, carry it on portable devices and so on. It wasn’t always like that. Let us take a look at how music has evolved over time.

The Phonograph

This was a musical instrument discovered by Thomas Edison in 1877. Prior to this, music was pretty much only live and thus the only way you would listen to music was by hearing someone sing. The phonograph was the first machine that could record as well as play music. It used a complex system of a recording stylus, cylinder and playback stylus.

Flat-disc records

The transition to recording in disks came in 1890. However, while the disks became largely popular, it was not due to their audio superiority over the phonograph, but rather due to the fact that they were easily mass producible. These started as five inch versions progressing to seven, ten and finally twelve inch versions in the year 1903.


While radio technology itself was there since earlier days, music on radio did New changes in musicnot happen until around 1913 in a college in San Jose. However, the college was still not broadcasting. The First World War saw the closure of various amateur radio stations but saw the IXE of Medford broadcast music in the year 1919. The year 1922 is notable for what was the first radio advert by AT & T.

The Music Tape

This was introduced in the year 1958 when RCA introduced the RCA tape. Prior to this, the tape wasn’t exactly a viable option for users since the mach9ines required to read magnetic tapes were quite complex compared to record players which by that time dominated the music consumption market. In that particular year however, high quality audio was recorded onto the tapes but still did not take off. This was attributable to reluctance by market players to change.

The Walkman

The walkman by Sony was perhaps among the largest industry-changing innovations. This was a portable tape player that led to higher acceptance of tapes by the public. In the year 1983 for the first time ever, tapes outsold vinyl records. This was accompanied by the development of rechargeable batteries.

The Compact Disc

The first commercial compact discs appeared in 1980 making it way easier and viable for manufacturers to produce them. ABBA was among the first groups to have a track recorded on CD. The compact disc however faced some resistance from audiophiles who still praised vinyl records over compact discs.

Electronic Music

This is basically attributed to the mp3 format. The format separated sounds into three layers that could be individually discarded or saved depending on importance. This has till now become the most popular means of music consumption due to easy transferability and the quality of sound.


This is where we are now. Sites such as Pandora pioneered the streaming technology and allow users to listen to tracks related to their favorite music. The sites have databases with thousands upon thousands of songs.