Caveman Audio

This is a picture of grooves of a long-playing 33 1/3 RPM stereo LP record, taken with a scanning electron microscope.


Two things struck me when I saw this image.

My first reaction was pure repulsion that we could have thought this was a smart way to collect and disseminate sound information. Hindsight is always 20/20, of course.

My second reaction was one of awe. In the period from 1877 to 1887, Thomas Alva Edison, Charles Sumner Tainter, and Emile Berliner effectively laid all the groundwork for what we consider the modern “record”. Given this technology, it’s nothing short of amazing that one can extract high quality audio from a record. The record enjoyed a one century lifespan, effectively dying along with disco. The CD won’t survive half that.

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