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History of Phonograms, 1951-2000



The SDMI initiative aims at a legal alternative solution to music piracy


- Propagation of mp3 use

- Watermarks start being used in music


Elton John’s song for Princess Diana, "Candle in the Wind 1997" become the fastest selling single, since within 24 hours of its release in the USA became 8 times platinum


The first DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) made its appearance in Consumers Electronic Show in Las Vegas


Despite the appearance of DCC and MD, the CD remains the dominant medium


Philips presents DCC (Digital Compact Cassette) which is compatible to the audio cassetee and has the same size, while the new tape recorders accept both types. Unable to come to an agreement with Philips, Sony creates MiniDisc (MD) that combines the quality of the CD with the easiness-to-use of the cassette


Philips presents the Compact Disc Interactive (CD-I). It is based on CD-ROM but has the ability to reproduce audio CDs, movies, games, etc


Sony presents in the USA the DAT, that follows the logic of the cassette but has smaller size. After pressure from the record companies, DAT player producers apply the SCMS (Serial Copy Management System) for the prevention of digital copying


For the first time, CD sales surpass the ones of vinyl LPs. Since 1989 the CD sales went over 200 million units and vinyl records started disappearing from the music stores


After initial limited sales, 50 million CDs were sold by the end of the year


- CD is recognized as the best sound carrier so far

- Bob Geldof organizes Live Aid to support African nations. The total revenues of the concert were £50 mil.


CD makes its first official appearance in the UK on March 1st. It was considered the second most important innovation for the music industry after the vinyl disc


- Michael Jackson’s album "Thriller" sold 40 million copies and became the most successful record in the recording history, even for years later

- In October starts in Japan the production of CD hardware and software


- Walkman II makes its appearance. Smaller by 25% and with by 50% less moving parts. The price is significantly reduced and becomes one of the most successful music products after the WWII

- A cable channel, MTV, starts broadcasting video clips. In the years to follow, music videos became necessary for the promotion of songs

- Philips presents the CD system to the music industry. In cooperation with Sony they produce a digital disc for commercial use


Sony presents the Woundabout cassette player, later renamed to walkman. Its advantages were the small earphones that produced good sound quality with a low single from the amplifier, and the good efficiency of its batteries. With an initial price of $200 it was not considered a mass commercial value product


First announcement of CD by Philips


- 100 years after Edison’s dream for a domestic device that would “talk”, every household had two or three

- The cassette sales cause a decline in vinyl discs sales and record companies release their albums in both types


The recording procedure has become so complicated that the studios started using computers


Discs with four sound channels (Quadrophonic) appear in the market but the public is not excited, due to the confusion regarding compatibility of the equipment and the economic environment


Till now 85 companies have sold 2.4 million tape recorders and the value of the cassette market was only for the year 1968 $150 million. By the end of the decade Philips compact cassette was the standard in cassette use


Dr Ray Dolby presents Dolby Noise Reduction System, a system applied in the recordings that prevailed globally


Recorded cassettes are in circulation. Easy to use and very popular in the years to follow, they managed to sell only 9,000 units in their first year. At the same time appears the widely spread for automobiles 8-track tape that had the advantage of playing endlessly


Philips presents the music cassette in Berlin’s convention


Stereo sound has practically replaced monophonic


Stereophonic records appear in the market together with monophonic ones. The album "My Fair Lady" and Tchaikovskys 1st Concert for piano by Van Cliburn were the first albums with sales of over 1 million


Companies start supplying recording studios with stereo equipment