The history of vinyl records dates back to the late 19th century, when Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. The phonograph was a device that could record and play back sound by means of a stylus that vibrated in response to sound waves, which were engraved onto a cylinder covered in tinfoil.
It wasn't until the 1930s that the vinyl record was invented. This new format was introduced by the RCA Victor company and was made of a more durable and resilient material, which was a mixture of polyvinyl chloride and plasticizer. This allowed for records to be played multiple times without showing as much wear and tear as the earlier cylinder recordings. The new vinyl format also allowed for longer playing times, with a standard record being able to hold around 20 minutes of music on each side.
Vinyl records quickly became the dominant music format in the 1940s and 1950s, as more and more people bought record players for their homes. The vinyl record industry boomed during this time, with many new artists and bands emerging to record albums and singles on the format. Vinyl records also became the primary medium for distributing music in the form of DJing in clubs and radio station playing a massive role in promoting the new form of music entertainment.
However, the vinyl record industry began to decline in the 1970s with the introduction of new music formats such as cassette tapes and compact discs (CDs). These new formats offered improved durability and were more convenient to use than vinyl records. The industry continued to decline in the 1980s and 1990s as digital music formats, such as MP3s, began to gain popularity.
In recent years, though, vinyl records have seen a resurgence in popularity. Some attribute this renewed interest in vinyl to its warm, analog sound quality and the tactile experience of handling a physical record. Additionally, many music enthusiasts appreciate the artwork and packaging that often accompanies vinyl record releases. According to some estimates, vinyl record sales in the United States alone reached a 28-year high in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic affecting many music sales.
Vinyl records are back! And have played a significant role in the history of music and entertainment. While the format has gone through periods of decline, it has also seen periods of resurgence. Today, vinyl records continue to be popular among music enthusiasts and collectors, who appreciate the unique sound quality and physical experience that the format provides.