Stereo had almost completely replaced mono as the recording mode.
Studios re-equipped with multi-track tape recorders, first 3-track
(initially for film work) or half inch or one inch wide tape,
then 4 track on one inch wide tape (later reduced to half inch).
8-track on one inch tape increased to 16-track on two inch tape.
The maximum tape width has stayed at two inches but the number
of tracks has increased still further to 24, 36 and even to 48
Philips introduced the Musicassette at the Berlin Funkaustellung.
Pre-recorded Musicassettes were released. Simple to use, the cassette
format was to become very popular. However, during its first year
on the market only 9000 units were sold. Philips did not protect
its cassette as a proprietary technology but encouraged other
companies to license its use. The pre-recorded 8 track cartridge
appeared on the ‘in-car entertainment’ market. It was considered
a convenient medium for this purpose because it could be inserted
into the player with one hand and was a continuous loop.
As unwanted background noise had been steadily reduced, so the
demand grew for even greater reduction. The film sound engineers
had long been using sophisticated devices to achieve noise reduction
but recording studios had been slow to follow their example. In
1966 Dr Ray Dolby introduced the Dolby Noise Reduction System
which became a universal standard.
By 1968 around eighty-five different manufacturers had sold over
2.4 million cassette players world wide and in that year alone
the cassette business was worth about $150 million. By the end
of the decade, the Philips compact cassette had become the standard
format for tape recording.
Quadrophonic (four channel) records appeared on the market but
public reaction was unenthusiastic due to the confusion of incompatible
systems and the economic climate.
Recording had become such a complicated process that the computer
memory was added to studio equipment.
One hundred years after Edison’s dream that some day in the distant
future there would be a talking machine in every home, the average
house contained two or three. The cassette had begun to challenge
the disc as the most popular format and the number of LPs sold
gradually declined while sales of cassettes increased rapidly.
Record companies were releasing their product in both formats.
First announcement of Compact Disc from Philips Industries.
Sony introduced the Soundabout cassette player which was later
renamed the Walkman. The innovative elements of this machine were
the tiny headphones capable of producing good quality sound with
only the smallest signal from the amplifier, and the increased
output from the batteries which powered the machine. Initially
considered a novelty and priced at $200 it was not considered
a product for mass marketing.
The Walkman II was introduced. It was 25% smaller than the original
version and had 50% fewer moving parts. Its price dropped considerably
and it was to become one of the most successful audio products
of the post war period. MTV (Music Television), a cable channel
began transmitting video clips. During the next few years, the
music video became essential for the promotion of a recording
and once established as a promotional tool it became an entertainment
product in its own right. Philips began to demonstrate their compact
disc system to representatives of the audio industry. Research
had been carried out jointly with the Sony Corporation of Japan
and together they produced a commercial digital play back record.
Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ album released by the Columbia subsidiary
Epic Records ultimately sold 40m copies world wide and became
the most successful product in the history of recorded sound.
With the help of elaborate music videos, the album produced seven
best-selling albums. Compact Disc (CD) hardware and software was
launched in Japan in October.
CD was officially launched in the UK on 1 March. It was hailed
as "the most important development in the recorded music
industry since the long playing record".
The CD was firmly established as the finest available music carrier
for the present and foreseeable future. Bob Geldof, Irish singer
and guitarist, organised Band Aid which, by means of large benefit
concerts, recordings and television appearances and keenly supported
by the music fraternity and public alike, raised more than £50million
to help the starving populations of Africa.
After slow initial sales, 50 million CD units were sold in the
For the first time sales of CD were higher than vinyl. By 1989
the CD accounted for over 200 million units and the LP was beginning
to disappear from record stores.
DAT was introduced by Sony in the US. It employed the cassette
format to record digitally but using a smaller sized cassette.
Under pressure from the recording industry the DAT hardware manufacturers
agreed to install SCMS (Serial Copy Management System) in all
equipment to prevent digital copying.