Ongoing History of New Music

Ongoing History Daily: Who invented headphones, part 3

From the late 50s through to the late 70s, headphones were big, bulky, heavy things.  The prevailing design theory was that for the user to get maximum fidelity out of them, the had to completely seal in the ear.  And headphone use took off, especially for people who liked albums (such as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon) that seem made for headphone listening. 

Many different speaker technologies were used:  dynamic drivers, the more expensive electrostatic technology, electret-based headphones, Heil Air Motion, magnetostriction, and a few others.

But the biggest breakthrough came in 1979 when Sony introduced the Sony Walkman.  They were small, very lightweight, and sounded surprisingly good.  They also made walking around in public wearing headphones publicly acceptable.

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.

Alan Cross has 38536 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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