----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Fine" <[log in to unmask]>
> According to a presentation I just heard by John Frayne of Bell Labs and later
Westrex, all of the
> patents on electronic recording, the original form, were AT&T. They had
licensed to Victor just
> before RCA bought Victor. Now, I'm not sure if RCA later developed other key
> vis-a-vis manufacturing. Someone could do a great ARSC Journal article
reviewing and explaining in
> English the evolution of US patents related to recording. One thing you'll
find is that AT&T
> patented 45-45 2-channel disk recording in the early 1930's. That patent was
assigned to Westrex
> when AT&T was forced to get out of the recording and motion picture
businesses, which is why Westrex
> had the market cornered on early stereo cutters. Another thing worth reading
is the AES Journal
> article by Mr. Roys (?) of RCA describing how the US and European record
companies got together and
> decided to go with the Westrex 45-45 system instead of system developed in the
UK, I think at Decca.
> Basically, market might of the US companies (which had already done the
extraordinary step of
> agreeing on the Westrex standard) won out but Haddey of Decca later told an
AES audience that he was
> convinced technically that the Westrex system was better. For the Europeans,
it was truly an
> extraordinary example of corporate sanity to standardize with the Americans,
thus guaranteeing years
> of profits for everyone from on and only one type of stereo LP. The same thing
was done with Compact
> Disc, but by that time, the number of companies was smaller, and showing how
times changed the
> Compact Disc was brought to practical form by Europeans and Japanese (although
the concept of
> digital recording on a pitted disc read by lasers was invented in the USA --
see the presentation
> which I think is still archived at the Seattle AES chapter website). Contrast
this to, for instance
> VHS vs. Beta (where the market preferred the convenience of the "inferior"
technology and thus there
> were costly losses for some in the other camp). Another interesting thing to
watch will be Blu-Ray
> vs. HDDVD, but I suspect that since these formats are both 5" discs, the end
result will be
> universal players like what ended up with the DVD+RW and DVD-RW blank formats.
I know, it's
> techically harder to do a universal for the two high-def DVD formats, but the
Asian design labs are
> wickedly clever.
Having read this...as well as Bob O.'s reply to my original post...and having
learned quite a bit that I never knew thereby...I have an important suggestion
here, for any ARSC listeners willing to take up the applicable gauntlet!
What we vitally need is a complete, correct and as concise as possible history
of the sound recording industry from c.1919 (when the expiry of the Victor/
Columbia patent(s) applicable to lateral recording allowed the field to be
flooded with newcomers...) to the present, or as close as applicable!
I had always assumed (apparently in error, as it turned out) that the dearth
of record companies during the thirties and into the early forties was because
there weren't enough record buyers...I had no idea of the effect on the industry
of royalty demands was also a contributing factor! I was also unaware that there
were comperting systems (a la colour TV in the early fifties...?) for "stereo"
disc recordings...and I have no idea what I DON'T know about the post-1919
era, since AFAIK there are no standard books on the subject.
In fact, I was contracted by the Canadian National Library to write "the sequel"
to "Roll Back the Years"...a project that came to naught with the death of Ed
Moogk's widow and the retirement of the then-current head of the institution...!
When I consider how many of the current ARSCLIST "listeners" were active and
involved in the recording industry during the last half-century or so...my
immediate thought is "Somebody ought to find out, and write down, and publish
all the stuff these guys lived through and still remember!"
I'm strictly a shellacophile...but that only covers the sound-recording industry
through c.1960 at the very best! That leaves 47 years still to be
Comment ca va...?
Steven C. Barr