Electronics in the Early Days

By | September 8, 2018

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Electronics in the early days were much different than they are today. Most young people today would not even recognize many of the gadgets that were used by their parents and grandparents.

In the 1930s, referred to as the Golden Age of Radio, it was all they had for communication as well as for entertainment. Families would gather around it to hear radio programs like “The Lone Ranger” and “The Shadow.” There were also comedy shows featuring the voices of Jack Benny and Fred Allen. They were even able to keep up with certain news from their president, Franklin Roosevelt, with his “Fireside Chats.” Radios were the tools that helped establish the networks like NBC and CBS. Most people today do not even use radios much anymore. They have moved on to MP3 players or simply listen to music on their phone or computer.  

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The Invention of the Record Player

Then there was the record player. It started out as a phonograph player that was first invented in 1887 which was also called a gramophone. Before electricity, they were operated by a hand crank. The very first ones looked much different than the gramophone. They were operated by a needle point that would go across the “record” as it turned and at times, the needle would scratch the record which in turn, cause the record to “skip” every time you played it.

There were different sizes of records that could be played on record players: 45’s, 33s, and 78s. The first size that was introduced, in 1948, was the 33s or LPs which means “long play” and would rotate at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute. The length was approximately 25 minutes on each side. Due to the material they were made of, they were called vinyl records. The 45s were singles with a song on each side and were introduced in 1949. The 78s were not made until the late 50s and they were 78 revolutions per minute with about five minutes of sound.

You can still find some of these around at various places like old music/antique shops or yard sales but not easy to find. Now we have upgraded to the digital version -- CDs if we want just the sound and DVDs if we want audio and video. Quite a step up from the old records!