How Many Music Playback Formats Have There Been?

And how many have you used? A quick inventory of my music collection says that I’ve used (or at least possess) music in the following formats:

  • Wax cylinders
  • 78s (both Berliner and Edison-style discs)
  • LPs
  • 12-inch singles
  • EPs (Both 33 1/3 and 45 varieties)
  • 45 RPM singles
  • Cassettes
  • DAT
  • MiniDisc
  • Reel-to-reel
  • 8-track
  • Compact discs (5-inch and 3-inch varieties)
  • DVD-Audio
  • HD-Audio

And that’s just the physical formats. If I look back through all the digital detritus on my hard drives, I have the following digital formats, not all of which can be played back anymore.

  • WAV
  • MP3
  • WMA
  • M4a
  • M4p
  • FLAC
  • OGG-Vorbis
  • AIFF

What formats have you used in your lifetime? Try this article at CNET for more thought-starters. (Via Tom)


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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