brief history of audio excerpt from my buddys book.

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pucho812

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O.k. My buddy finally finished his audio book I had mentioned here a while back. You may remember me talking about the one which has focus on studio etiquette. I decided I would post the time line of audio from the book. It's written very well and IMO is really funny. I will in the next few days have it available as a pdf for those who wish to get a copy via e-mail.


Like many of my heroes in this business, I got started quite by accident. After a simple recording session, in which I was playing guitar, the studio’s owner/engineer offered me a job for
the summer sweeping up and helping out. I don’t think the guy liked me at all, but just figured the world would be a lot safer if I was in a place where someone could keep an eye on me rather than letting me run amok all over town. I didn’t do anything much of a technical nature, that summer, but I got a sense of what a recording studio was all about. After that job, I just kept falling into more studio and live sound touring experiences and gradually I got the idea that maybe I should learn something about this gig. So, I began studying. I learned the equipment and it’s techniques and also, a bit about it’s history. And, I came to find that many of the milestones in this industry came about accidentally as the result of trying to do something else altogether. I can’t vouch for the accuracy or truthfulness of the following as they’re really just a collection of rumors that I’ve collected over the years. I know they’re rumors because I started them!

2600 BC: The Chinese get the jump on the whole computing game by building the abacus. They’re light, easy to carry around and they don’t need batteries.

1621: The slide rule is invented as western civilization’s answer to the abacus. They’re smaller and even more versatile than the abacus and “ruled” western computing for the next 350 years when the pocket calculator came on the scene. Most of my experience with the slide rule was in ducking as my teacher tried to hit me with one.

1452-1519: Leonardo da Vinci invented the battery; but why? Nobody had anything to hook up to it. When asked why he did it, he just shrugged and said that it gave him a charge.

1752: Ben Franklin discovers that lightning is electrical in nature. Not long after that, Dr. Frankenstein discovers that the electricity in lightning contains all the secrets of life! Ben Franklin
went on to invent the Franklin Stove, which doesn’t run on electricity, and to help create a new country. Dr. Frankenstein went on to create his own monster, which did seem to run on
electricity, and eventually got himself chased out of of the country.

1800: Humphry Davy builds a working light bulb, but they only lasted about as long as a dime store Christmas tree light. Then he invented aluminum, which has a different connotation for the
word “light.” It was a good thing, but he screwed it up by changing it’s name to aluminium.

1817: The element Selenium is discovered, but nobody knew what to do with it. Eventually, people would make televisions, transistors and copy machines with it.

1821:Charles Babbage tries to build the first computer, which weighed in at a hefty 3 tons and contained 25,000 parts. A giant step backwards compared to the
slide rule. If you ask me, it was nothing more than a big, hand crank abacus. He called it the “Difference Engine.” Not only did it his engine not run, it couldn’t
tell the difference either.

1822: Ada Lovelace (daughter of Lord Byron)
accidentally becomes the first computer programer while helping Charles Babbage with his oversized gizmo. She had a lot of good ideas that are still in use today, such as “looping,” in which the computer executes a series of instructions over and over until a given condition is obtained. Sounds an awful lot like nagging to me.

1832: Sammy Morse has a brainstorm idea for an electromagnetic communications device. In 1835 he builds the first telegraph and accidentally launchesv the digital communication age by using short bursts of signal to represent dots and dashes which could only be deciphered by Boy Scouts. Smoke signals were digital, but nobody, not even the Indians, understood them. The first message ever transmitted was “What hath God wrought!” As if he didn’t know that it would make him a very wealthy man. However, these first attempts were of no real use because he was the only one that knew Morse Code.

1839: The photographic process is discovered by three different people in three separate countries. It took hours of exposure to create a photograph, so anyone posing would have to hold
perfectly still the whole time or the photo would turn out blurry. That’s why people in those early photo’s looked so stiff, they were suppressing all body functions for the sake of a picture.

1844: Sam gets the telegraph running full bore, teaches others his code, and goes into the communications business. It used a wind-up mechanism to generate the needed current

1873: Selenium’s photoelectric effect is discovered by Willoughby Smith. Nobody cares.

1875: G.R. Carey developed a transmission system using photoelectric principles. It used multiple photoelectric transducers to convert light into electricity, and a luminous device to convert electricity back into light in a display. Television! A whole year before the telephone!

1876:Alex G. Bell was trying to find a way of transmitting more than one telegraph signal at a time over a single line and by screwing it all up, accidentally invented the telephone in the process. What he’d actually come up with was a transducer.
We call it the microphone.


Mark Twain had this to say about Bell’s invention: “It is my heart-warm and worldembracing Christmas hope and aspiration that all of us, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the admired, the despised, the loved, the hated, the civilized, the savage (every man and brother of us all throughout the whole earth), may eventually be gathered together in a heaven of everlasting rest
and peace and bliss, except the inventor of the telephone.”

By 1888 early phone company marketers were trying to talk Mark Twain into getting a phone in his home. He speculated that besides the police station, the local hospital, and his publisher, nobody else he knew would ever want one. He was a far better humorist than he was a visionary.

1877: California governor Leland Stanford made a $25,000 bet that all four of a horses hooves actually came off the ground at the same time when in a full gallop. So, to settle the bet he hired a skilled photographer named Eadweard Muybridge to try to capture the moment on film with high speed cameras. By using 12 cameras triggered in rapid succession they found the proof they were looking for and won the bet, but in the mean time found that by viewing the photographs rapidly in sequence they had accidentally created the first motion picture. The idea of “persistence of vision,” which makes us perceive successive still photo’s as as single motion picture, was unknown to most people up until that time. Muybridge kept up the experiments, but never figured out that it would be a lot simpler to use one single camera. If we still did things his way it would take over a thousand cameras to shoot a one minute movie. I think I’d like to see that.

1877: Oberlin Smith publishes his idea for magnetic recording, but doesn’t apply for a patent. Big mistake! And just to prove his stupidity, in 1888 he “donates” the idea to the public so that anybody can make recordings; which probably makes him the true father of free downloading.Also in 1877, W.E. Sawyer brain-stormed an idea that would transmit individual pixel signals making up an image in sequence and at high speed, and then reconstructing them at the receiving end. Digital TV!

1883: Tommy Edison accidentally invented the vacuum tube while trying to make improvements on the light bulb. He discarded the idea as having no merit. But, he found many uses for the basic light bulb, such as a viewer for motion pictures.

1889: Valdemar Poulsen was the person who actually built the first wire recorder. He was trying to invent an answering machine for the telephone. It didn’t catch on right away, so in 1902 he gave up recording for a career in radio in which he became a star of late night talk shows in Denmark. Poulsen’s first recorder was made of a steel wire stretched between two walls and at an angle so that a small electromagnet could be slid down the wire by the force of gravity. Small wires connected the electromagnet to a battery who’s DC current was modulated into an AC audio signal by a microphone. This audio signal was recorded to the wire as the device slid down it’s length until it hit the other wall. The bigger the room, the longer
the wire, and therefore, more recording time! To affect replay, the battery was removed and the microphone was
replaced by an earpiece. Later on he made a spiral grooved brass cylinder with a fine wire embedded in the groove. The cylinder remained in a fixed position with the transducer rotating
around it. This was about as practical as having a phonograph record setting still while we run the stylus
around and around the record.

Much more to his credit, was his invention of the hard disk; a 4.5 inch diameter steel disk with a spiral on the surface that could be recorded on as the disk rotated. What a
lame idea! It’ll never catch on!

1895: Nick Tesla invents the radio, but credit was given to Guglielmo Marconi in that same year because Tesla was more interested in broadcasting electrical power than baseball games and didn’t seriously pursue radio as a career.

Tesla’s ideas for broadcasting were far more grandiose Not only could you read by it’s light you didn’t
need any of those fragile glass bulbs to put it in. If it had actually worked, it would have lit up the night sky in a similar fashion. Unfortunately, his tower of power mysteriously burned down before he got it working––Gee, I wonder why?

1897: K. F. Braun invents the cathode-ray tube which is far more effective as a TV screen than as a ray-gun for fighting space aliens.

1905:Al Einstein comes up with some cool ideas about light in a half-assed attempt to invent the television. This idea bombed in a big way
(over Hiroshima in 1945).


1906: Lee DeForest finally gets a vacuum tube to work as an amplifier, and we were on our way.

1907: Copyrights ran out on the telephone, so the Bell Company founded AT&T in an attempt to try to expand their influence worldwide and in doing so, accidentally created a demand for
better amplifiers.

1926: Nyquist gets some weird idea that audio waves could be explained by statistical analysis and in the process comes up with the principles of digital audio. Like that will ever work!

1926: Someone gets a bright idea, the transistor! Actually, the basic idea had been kicking around at Bell since 1907, but nobody had any clue as to how to pull it off, and it wasn’t until 1946 that anyone actually built one that worked. Why is it that bad ideas have a way of persisting until someone makes it work? They’re still working on trying to make them sound good.

1935: The first real tape recorders are built at the request of Adolph Hitler so he could edit Winston Churchill’s speeches without anybody hearing the edits. He also came up with the ideas for
the Volkswagen, the freeway, and the postal Zip-Code system, as well as a host of other equally bad ideas.

1942: Alexander M. Poniatoff starts an electronics company and calls it the “Experiment,” or AMPEX for short.

1943: Thomas Watson, the head dude at IBM, made this startling prediction: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Well, at least we know that he wasn’t a prophet.

1943: The U.S. Army builds ENIAC (Electronic Numeric Integrator Analyzer and Computer) which was so fast that it could solve complex problems in two seconds (problems that required two days to program into the computer). It weighed 30 tons, was 100 feet long, 8 feet tall, and used 17,468 vacuum tubes which consumed 200 kilowatts of power per hour.

1945: A moth gets fried in Harvard’s Mark I computer, shorting out a relay and causing a breakdown. This was the first computer “bug.” This was no accident, it was a warning from the bug world! That moth was a martyr.


1945: U.S. Army Captain John Mullin steals two tape recorders out of Hitler’s bunker, but when the military realized that these machines couldn’t be used to kill people, they lost interest in tape recorders. Mullin teamed up with Bing Crosby and Ampex and conquered the world of recording.

1946: Shockley builds the first transistor. It didn’t work until a couple of other guys got in on the action. Imagine a computer running on billions of these babies. The moth was right!

1946: Bill Putnam builds his first recording studio. He became the father of the modern recording console by inventing the routing matrix, the aux send, the multiband EQ and the reverb
(echo) return. He also invented the reverb chamber and in 1947 became the first person to record with artificial reverberation using the tiled men’s room at the studio as a chamber. In the
late ‘40s he became the first person to use magnetic tape recording for commercial records, and was the first person to use a tape machine for an echo device. Along with his pal, Les
Paul, he was one of the first people to record in stereo. For years in the late ‘50s, he recorded two versions of everything, a mono and a stereo version. So, by the early ‘60s, when stereo came into popularity as a commercial format, he already had a large catalog available; the only stereo catalog of recorded material! When he sold these previously unused versions to the record companies they just wanted to pay him for the tapes, but he said that no, they had to pay him for the
studio time that had been used to originally record them. This made him an extra $200,000 per
month. Nice! In 1965, along with Dean Pattan, he wrote the first audio engineering text books specifically for recording studio students. Thus, Bill Putnam accidentally starts the independent
recording studio movement that came to dominate the industry by the late 1960s.


1947:AMPEX acquires funding from Bing Crosby and took up where Hitler and the U.S. Army left off with the whole idea of tape recording and high fidelity sound. This gave Rock &
Roll the edge it needed and eventually Rock music destroyed Bing Crosby’s career. ABC bought the first twelve machines, and later on, Disney bought ABC. Hitler didn’t think Disney’s Mickey Mouse was funny. Well, who’s laughing now? It all keeps coming back.

1954: Guitarist Les Paul tries to talk several tape machine manufactures into building him an eight-track tape machine. After a lot of goading, AMPEX finally agrees to build one as a special order item just to shut him up, and didn’t make them commercially available until 1960, as they didn’t see any use in the recording industry for eighttrack recording.

1955:A delivery boy named Elvis wanted to record a song for his mom and accidentally launches Rock & Roll into the mainstream of western culture.

1960: Tom Down had quit making A-Bombs for the government to try his hand at something truly dangerous; making records! Along the way he built the first 8-track recording console and
invented the sliding fader, thus completing the concept of the modern recording console.

1963: George Martin records the Beatles and inadvertently allows them to have artistic control over their recordings, accidentally starting a dangerous trend that still persists to this day. My God, if musicians start controlling their own music, the next thing you know they’ll want to record it themselves.

1965: John Lennon, of the Beatles, intentionally records distorted guitar tracks, unintentionally pissing off a lot of engineers who had deemed it their divine obligation to prevent distortion from being recorded.

1965: Motorola and RCA introduce the “Stereo-8” eight track cassette format and was quite successful until 1980 when the compact cassette began to take over.

1970: Alison Research Labs introduces console automation creating a convergence of computer and audio, and along with Bi-Phase motor synchronization, the motion picture technologies.

1971: Quad sound bursts on the scene and instantly becomes the dominant force in the industry; well, that’s what the makers of amplifiers and monitor speakers would have liked.

1975: Sony introduces the Betamax home video system and gives the VHS technology away to Panasonic and JVC for free. Sony was convinced that the VHS system was inferior to the Beta
system. Thus, they accidentally made it possible for the home video and the future home recording studio market to flourish. Whatever happened to Betamax, anyway?

1978: The Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers comes up with SMPTE Time Code and accidentally makes it possible for insecure record producers to over produce records as they
have never been over produced before, by allowing for multi-machine synchronization.

1978: Sony introduces the first PCM digital recorders. These were professional open reel machines. Eventually they were enlarged to 48-tracks with a dedicated time code track and two analog tracks that were intended for edit monitoring,
but which could be used for extra tracks in a pinch.


1981: The recorded compact disk is released and within three years is outselling all other formats, and accidentally makes it possible for record companies to sell everybody every record they ever owned, all over again. By rereleasing old versions of records as new or newly re-mastered, they have managed to keep some records on the charts for over 20 years. Maybe it was planned.


1984: The audio cassette exceeds sales of the LP and the 8-track for the first time.

1989: Digidesign greatly advances the concept of digital editing with “Sound Tools” featuring Sound Designer II waveform editing software. Along with the inventions of virtual memory and
their “Sound Accelerator Card” for the Macintosh computer, Sound Tools accidentally signals the eventual end of analog multitrack recording as the dominant recording medium.


1991: MXR stompbox king, tries to build an inexpensive digital reverb and accidentally invents the modular digital tape machine, MDM’s as they came to be called. He called it the A-DAT.


1994: DVD’s for Karaoke are released followed in 1997 by the DVD-A for music amid enough fanfare and hoopla to make a roadside snake-oil salesman cringe with envy. The pitch was that
surround sound is here and taking over as the dominant format faster than the CD’s rise to power. We’re still waiting. The only thing successful about the DVD has been the video format
released in 1996 and the recordable DVD released in 2000.


2004: An LA based recording engineer and instructor gets tired of harping on his students about the subject of music studio etiquette and decides to write it down just to save his throat, and
accidentally writes a book on the subject. After all, we make our living with out ears not our mouths, so why spend so much time talking?
 

emrr

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Cool, I like that we start in 2600BC.

I have a real problem with Bill Putnam's children, and the constant attempt at a history rewrite.  You'd think he'd invented the wheel, what with the shit spewed from the modern UA media machine.    He didn't invent the aux send, multiband EQ, routing matrices, or echo return, nor was he the first to record with artificial reverb.  There is previous art on every one of those points.  Now, he may possibly be credited with being the first to stick all of those things on a console channel module; that's entirely different.   Even then, the only difference with other forgotten art in other studios is the claim itself; it doesn't make it so.  

 

JohnRoberts

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emrr said:
Bill Putnam builds his first recording studio. He became the father of the modern recording console by inventing the routing matrix, the aux send, the multiband EQ and the reverb
(echo) return. He also invented the reverb chamber and in 1947 became the first person to record with artificial reverberation using the tiled men’s room at the studio as a chamber.


Cool, I like that we start in 2600BC.

I have a real problem with Bill Putnam's children, and the constant attempt at a history rewrite.  You'd think he'd invented the wheel, what with the shit spewed from the modern UA media machine.    He didn't invent the aux send, multiband EQ, routing matrices, or echo return, nor was he the first to record with artificial reverb.  There is previous art on every one of those points.  Now, he may possibly be credited with being the first to stick all of those things on a console channel module; that's entirely different.   Even then, the only difference with other forgotten art in other studios is the claim itself; it doesn't make it so. 

I didn't look at it as a strictly accurate historical record, but more of a tongue in cheek anecdotal history by individual contributions. A closer inspection of many of those factoids reveals  a more complex real story behind technological developments.

I read a great coffee table history book a few years ago that devoted a chapter to some 50 different individuals ranging from Eli Whitney to Edison, to Bill Gates.  In pretty much every case the full story was far more convoluted and conflicted that the anecdotal version.  His snippets are barely full anecdotes. (Sorry I don't recall the title/author. I loaned out the book to a friend so I  don't expect to ever see it again.  ???

He has an entertaining style, it will probably be a fun book. I would look elsewhere for hard history.

JR
 

pucho812

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EEMO1 said:
heh, i enjoyed that. where can I get a copy?

Float me an e-mail and I can get you a freebie pdf version.


JohnRoberts said:
He has an entertaining style, it will probably be a fun book. I would look elsewhere for hard history.

JR

Well JR you are correct. But the book itself is focused on studio etiquette. It does mention minor technical talk such as I posted above.  In the full introduction, there is mention that of all the audio schools in the US, the problem is not teaching the technical. The technical theory they teach is good. The problem lies in diplomacy of a session which schools do not teach. That is what this book talks about.

anyone want a copy, e-mail me and I will e-mail you back a pdf. :)
 

PRR

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> A closer inspection of many of those factoids reveals a more complex real story behind technological developments.

A very detailed account of speaker/mike history is the first half of ELECTROACOUSTICS : The Analysis of Transduction and Its Historical Background , Frederick V. Hunt, Havard University Press, 1954. If you are serious about electroacoustics, history or theory, it is very worth the $50-$150 you will pay for a copy.

Yes, most everything gets invented many times many ways circularly. The "Pierce oscillator", crystal-controlled frequency, was exceptionally well documented in court and an informal summary covers six pages. "Bass reflex" is pages of patent references, many expired before good cone speakers arrived. The telephone microphone is one of the murkiest tales in technology and may still be the longest-running patent suit. Bell really screwed-up: he should have understood a core principle, but didn't get it. Others did better, and Bell System used every trick to lock them out.

Putnam is clearly A Pioneer. And in many ways, a Winner. History is written by the winners.
 

MartyMart

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1877: California governor Leland Stanford and photographer Eadweard Muybridge invented "Bullit time" which
was later used very successfully in the motion picture "The Matrix"  !!!

If only they had placed the camera's in a circle rather than next to each other :)

MM.
 

diyfanatic

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My God, if musicians start controlling their own music, the next thing you know they’ll want to record it themselves.

1981: The recorded compact disk is released and within three years is outselling all other formats, and accidentally makes it possible for record companies to sell everybody every record they ever owned, all over again. By rereleasing old versions of records as new or newly re-mastered, they have managed to keep some records on the charts for over 20 years. Maybe it was planned

true, so they need to stop moaning for mp3...
there's some tracks that, I think, I paid 3 times...

I like the ironic writting...it's more like JR wrote anecdotes than history.
good stuff.
 

SSLtech

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Note... Tom Dowd is inaccurately referred to as Tom Down.

He also never actually built an 'A-bomb' (rather his student research work was peripherally involved with the Manhatten project, which -since the entirety of the project was classified- meant that he never received full credit for his research...) -Still, it's a popular tale. -A good story will run around the world before the truth can get its boots on.

Keith
 

pucho812

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SSLtech said:
Note... Tom Dowd is inaccurately referred to as Tom Down.

He also never actually built an 'A-bomb' (rather his student research work was peripherally involved with the Manhatten project, which -since the entirety of the project was classified- meant that he never received full credit for his research...) -Still, it's a popular tale. -A good story will run around the world before the truth can get its boots on.

Keith

The tom Down was a typo on my part. the rest is true. I suspect you got that info from the same documentary movie "Tom Dowd The language of music"
 

pucho812

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SSLtech said:
...and knowing Tom Dowd.

Ditto...

He once told me that if an engineer grabbed an eq while recording when he was producing, the engineer would get fired. If you don't like the sound, move the mic around until you do. If you still do not like the sound, then change the mic
 

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