The Evolution of Portable Voice Recorders

Portable voice recorders have been a useful tool in some form across multiple industries for over a century. Many jobs and hobbies benefit from the use of portable voice recorders today—and they also make for fascinating historical artifacts. How did we get from the original voice recorders to the ultra-compact digital models we have today? The history and evolution of portable voice recorders in Tacoma, WA is a fascinating look into human innovation.

In the beginning

The first voice recorders were developed starting in the late 19th century and were all mechanical devices, unlike the electrically-powered instruments we have today. The phonograph and gramophone were two of the earliest voice recorders. By the 1890s, Alexander Graham Bell had invented the first tape recorder.

Electric sounds

Between the 1920s and the 1940s, voice recording got a boost from electricity. Instead of mechanical gramophones and phonographs, record players were produced with electrical power capabilities. Recording also took place using electricity, with the advent of microphones and the additional frequencies that the recording devices could now pick up.

It’s magnetic

Between the ‘40s and the ‘70s, magnetic tape recorders took hold. Scientists discovered that if they used a magnetized medium above a recording head, moving at a constant rate of speed, they could conduct a recorded electrical signal. This was because the magnetized pattern was conducted to the recording head, which looked a lot like the electrical signal. The tape playback head would then notice the changes in the magnetization and create an electrical signal, which translated into sound.

This type of tape recorder became very popular after first debuting with the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1932, when audiences were shocked to learn that the performance they heard was pre-recorded, not live. (If you’ve ever heard the slogan, “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” you know where that came from.)

The digital era

Digital recording began in the 1970s, starting with reel-to-reel tape decks. These and later digital technology were primarily used in recording studios. Digital audio and video were captured on tape at first, and by the ‘90s, hard disks started to come into popular use. This gave rise to the advent of compact discs and DVDs, which dominated the music scene from the late ‘80s to late ‘90s. By the late ‘90s and early 2000s, MP3s were the latest in audio technology, offering a great deal of compression while still providing excellent sound quality.

MP3 files have made it possible for the music industry to make, record and distribute music on a much larger scale for less overhead (and less physical storage space) than ever before. It’s not just limited to music, either—most industries that employ voice recording owe a lot to the history of portable voice recorders in Tacoma, WA outlined above.

Are you interested in finding out what modern digital voice recorders can do for you? Call the team at Efficiency, Inc. We specialize in setting up businesses and solo practitioners with the best in recording equipment.

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