Global music and movie retailer HMV have pulled their retail stores out of Canada. Fierce competition from online retailers, digital streams and download services have forced the chain to its closure in the country. HMV will cease operations in Canada by April 30.
Over time things become obsolete, whether it be the physical format or the concept of how the goods are sold. The end of the record, so to speak. On this page we have compiled some of the audio formats we remember from our childhood and beyond to take you down memory lane!
The Phonographic Cylinder was a wax cylinder that played audio and dawned the age of recorded music. Its popularity began in 1896 and lasted until 1915 when Vinyl Record Discs became King. Phonographic Cylinders were incredibly fragile and could easily smash if dropped; but these cylinders contain some of the oldest recordings in existence!
This music format that managed to make a huge comeback is one of the oldest in existence! In fact Vinyl has made such a big comeback in recent years that it will no doubt continue to be on the shelves for many years to come. The first Vinyl records date back to as early as 1889 and are still being made today. They were an incredibly popular and mainstream format from 1915-1991. The discs of then and now are different however, as the technology and materials have improved over the years to get the best sound quality and durability possible. Typical records come in 3 sizes: 12" 10" and 7". 12" Long Play (LP) records are able to hold an entire album's worth of music and 7" are used for a single. 10", as you can guess, are the in-between size for Extended Plays (think an album but shorter). Early Vinyl competed with the Phonographic Cylinder and eventually won the format war as the cylinder faded out by 1915.
A format that was popular in North America starting in 1965 until 1983 when it was finally pulled from retail shelves to make space for newer products. However this format was still releasing prerecorded titles up until 1988! An 8-Track was a tape cartridge system which was on an endless loop. The format began its life in car stereos and quickly became a popular and portable option in comparison to the vinyl records of the time. The format had many technical problems which had risen to public knowledge quickly. The Compact Cassette was introduced in 1963, and by the 1970s they had largely replaced the 8-Track in popularity.
Phillips developed the compact cassette in the 60s and anyone who was a child up until the 90s/00s will remember. Compact Discs would eventually spell the end for this format, which did lead a long life from 1963 all the way up until the early 2000s when it was pulled from retail shelves. During the 1980s the cassette became an iconic way of listening to music with Sony developing its Walkman. The 'Walkman' allowed users to take cassettes with them as they walked, like an early iPod if you are unfamiliar with the device. Early computers even stored games and programs on this format! Cassettes have started to make a recent revival similar to vinyl for prerecorded music! They have become a fashion item with young trend-setters.
Compact Disc (CD's)
A digital disc format that is still popular to this day. First released in 1982, a laser is used to read this digital format versus the previous analog formats mentioned above. A CD can be uploaded easily to a computer and then the files can be synced to your music library. You can then take the files from the library and add them to your iPod, MP3 or Smartphone music player. The format is ideal because it allows you to keep a physical copy that can be transferred to your computer so you can keep the discs at home safe from scratches! CD "Walkmans" have been around since the 80's but became more popular and affordable in the 90's, also known as "Discmans". A major problem with using CD's as a portable format is their tendency to skip when in an environment heavy with vibration, a problem that cassettes never had. Although CD players have improved anti-vibration features over time, this problem still remains. CD's have many advantages such as their ability to skip tracks as well as the not needing to rewind or turn the disc over.
So now, as we enter into a mostly digital and streaming age, we can look back and truly appreciate musical record formats from their birth to their death. Now it seems that the brick and mortar store format has met its end as well... at least for HMV.
Thanks for all the wonderful memories!
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To read about those formats above in more technical detail, and to discover other more obscure and less known mediums, visit this site below!