I looked at the progress in recording techniques over the last 50 years or so.
From portable reel to reel equipment, through to today’s hard drive/flash drive recording devices, the principles are still the same. Microphone, a connection to the recording equipment, and then something to store the sound on.
The lesson started with the Kudelski NAGRA, which was first developed in the 1950’s. The name NAGRA comes from the Polish word for “record”, Polish being the native language of Stefan Kudelski, the inventor. The NAGRA features reel-to-reel technology, and were the machines used in audio recording for films and television from being introduced in the 1950/60s, through to the 1990s.
The NAGRA IV-S shown below was introduced in 1971.
Kudelski NAGRA IV-S
From the NAGRA, the next technological advance discussed was the DAT, or Digital Audio Tape. DAT, was developed by Sony, introduced in 1987 and discontinued at the end of 2005. These tapes were small in size, smaller even than standard audio cassettes, but unlike cassettes, could only be played in one direction. The data encoded onto the tape is digital, as the name suggests, which allowed for greater flexibility, and more data to be stored.
Digital Audio Tape
The next format discussed was the Minidisc. I’m fortunate enough to not only know what a minidisc is, but I have a minidisc recorder at home. Sony again pioneered the use of minidiscs, targetting the home audio cassette market. They had success in Japan, but less so around the world, and were eventually overtaken by the Compact Disc, firstly in terms of music being released on the format, and then, as computer technology improved, the home CDR/CDRW market exploded, with prices falling, making the minidisc uneconomical to continue.