1759 First song written by an American, My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free by Francis Hopkinson of Philadelphia who would later sign Declaration of Independence and design first American flag.
1770 Music collection Urania: A Choice Collection of Psalm-Tunes, Anthems and Hymns assembled by Rev. James Lyon becomes first book of songs published by an American.
1827 First popular American song hit The Minstrel’s Return From The War by John Hill Hewitt written two years earlier.
1835 Amazing Grace is published in the William Walker song book, The Southern Harmony.
1847 Stephen Foster publishes Oh Susanna.
1877 Thomas Edison invents the phonograph. Emile Berliner patents the microphone.
1887 Emile Berliner patents flat disc record making mass production feasible.
1888 First phonographs manufactured for sale. Wax phonograph cylinders commercially produced.
1889 Coin-operated phonographs appear in bars and arcades, the precursor of the jukebox.
1890 First jukebox built.
1896 Shellac phonograph discs hit the marketplace.
1900 Double-sided phongraph records appear, although wax cylinders are still outselling records.
1901 Berliner Gramophone merges with Eldridge Johnson’s Consolidated Talking Machine Co. to become Victor Talking Machine Co. and becomes top producer of phonographs and phonograph records.
1906 Victor sells first Victrola phonograph player at an affordable price of $15.
1915 Creation of 78 RPM record vastly improves the music listening experience.
1918 Wax cylinders become obsolete.
1921 First commercial AM radio broadcast from Pittsburgh’s KDKA.
1924 Electronic phonographs surface.
1927 Jim Jackson’s Kansas City Blues Part I and 2 for Vocallion label becomes first million selling 78 RPM record. Vocallion tries to capitalize on the success by rushing Jackson back into the studio to record follow-up Kansas City Blues Part 3 and 4 but it fails to catch on.
1928 Dr. Fritz Pfleumer develops magnetic audio tape.
1929 Harry Nyquist publishes mathematical concepts which are basis for the sampling theorem later used in digital audio processing known as the Nyquist Theorem.
1931 EMI UK employee Alan Blumlein patents stereo recording process.
1935 BASF company creates first practical plastic-based magnetic audio tapes. Magnetophone recorder developed in Germany.
1941 Commercial FM broadcasting begins.
1945 US Army Signal Corps major John T. Mullin “liberates” two German magnetophones from Radio Frankfurt along with 50 reels of BASF tape.
1946 Mullin demonstrates tape recording at Institute of Radio Engineers meeting in San Francisco. Ampex boss Alexander Poniatoff takes note so does Bing Crosby who hires Mullin as his recordist and engineer.
1947 Recording industry controlled by Big 6: Columbia, RCA Victor, Decca, Capitol, MGM and Mercury but indie labels targeting emerging teen market begin gaining ground.
1948 Portable tape recorders introduced. Columbia Records demonstrate advantages of new “long play” 33 1/3 RPM records which boast 20 minutes more music per side than 78s.
1949 RCA Victor offers more compact 45 RPM record as an alternative.
1951 Sam Phillips records Ike Turner’s Rocket 88 and sells the master of the first rock ‘n’ roll song to Chess Records. Phillips uses the money to start Sun Records label and installs an Ampex tape recording system in his studio.
1954 Elvis Presley records That’s All Right Mama at Sun with Sam Phillips using two Ampex 350 recorders to create “slap back” delay effect. 12 year-old engineering buff Chuck Colby builds first pocket-sized transistor radio, sells them on his paper route.
1955 Ampex develops selective synchronous recording aka “sel-sync” system which makes audio overdubbing possible.
1958 Koss introduces stereo headphones.
1959 EMI forgets to renew their stereo patent. Oops.
1962 Enterprising audio engineer Henry Kloss creates first portable stereo with transistorized record player. Fits in a handy three-piece suitcase.
1963 Dutch Philips company introduce compact cassette audio tapes originally intended for dictation use.
1965 William Lear of Lear Jet Aviation develops 8-track stereo cartridge tape player. Ford offers 8-track tape deck option in next year’s models.
1966 First pre-recorded music cassettes appear on shelves but only 49 titles are available.
1972 Magnavox demonstrates Odyssey home video game console designed by Ralph Baer including a tennis game which was the precursor to Atari’s coin-operated Pong that appeared in bars and arcades.
1976 Marantz Superscope portable radio/cassette deck hits the streets of New York for $200 touching off the boombox craze.
1979 Sony launches portable Walkman cassette player.
1981 IBM introduces 16-bit personal computer, aka PC.
1982 Compact discs developed by Sony and Philips.
1983 Cassette tapes now outselling LPs but the celebrations are cut short as Compact discs and players hit stores.
1984 Apple begins marketing Macintosh computer with clever mouse interface.
1986 Digital Audio Tape (DAT) becomes commercially available.
1988 Sony introduces portable Discman CD player. CDs now outsell LPs.
1990 Recordable compact discs, CD-Rs appear as pre-recorded cassettes hit annual sales of 442 million in US alone.
1992 Compact disc sales surpass cassette sales as annual sales of compact disc players breaks 5 million mark.
1997 DVDs go on sale.
1998 MP3 players appear. Major record label executives concerned about what free downloading of music sound files online will do to their 30 billion dollar industry.
1999 Millions of people now downloading music for free.
2000 Sales of blank CD-Rs shoot to an estimated 3 million per month.
2001 Apple’s pocket-sized iPod digital music player appears.
2002 Stanton Magnetics and Serato Audio Research develop software DJ interface systems allowing club DJs to digitize their record collections and “spin” from their laptops.
2003 iTunes offers single tracks for 99 cents in April. 25 million songs are sold by December.
2004 iTunes report total sales of 200 million by December.
2005 iTunes sales zoom past 500 million song milestone in July.
2006 iTunes sales increase to 1.5 billion songs by October.
2007 iTunes sales at 2.5 billion as of April 1.