Sony's digital efforts were years after the NHK, first alone and then working with Denon, had
developed PCM audio recording. NHK had a working mono PCM recorder that used videotape as its
storage medium before 1970. By 1972, Denon was releasing commercial LPs made with its stereo
PCM-to-video recorder. By 1974, they had dozens of LPs in the can. As I wrote in my ARSCJ article
linked in a previous post, PCM concepts and technology were developed for telephony and dated from
the 1940's (and earlier, actually the 1920's). But, the first use for professional audio recording
was the NHK in Japan, and Denon quickly latched onto their developments and research. Sony was not a
"digital first" by any means, but their R&D probably did as much or more than anyone in making
digital audio (and video) recording and playback ubiquitous.
I didn't get into Sony very much in my ARSCJ article because the scope of it was to deal with
"digital firsts" i.e. the dawn of things digital. Sony would be a lead subject in an article about
"the day of digital" or "the digital takeover of mass media." I don't mean any of that in a
pejorative sense, just stating facts.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Lou Judson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2012 8:15 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital History Query
Just to save others time researching; The article says this:
"Nevertheless, Takayama and Suzukawa toiled to build Sony's first PCM digital audio recording
machine, the X-12DTC, was announced in 1974. It used 2-inch wide tape and a fixed head with 56
channels. Although it reproduced sound, the X-12DTC recorder was roughly the size of a refrigerator.
The transport unit alone weighed approximately 250 kilograms. Although overly bulky, the creation of
the first machine marked the beginning of Sony's history in digital sound recording. The machine was
transported to and from various venues to make test recordings of orchestral music. The recorder was
also exhibited at the 1974 Audio Fair in Japan. Some audio specialists remarked on the clarity of
the machine's sound. In the end, however, the recorder was not marketed, even though producing
digital sound through a PCM system with fixed heads represented a revolution in recording
and Betamax is not describer further in the article. So there was a 2" digital recorder prototype,
but it was not a Betamax... was it? Kind of like having an 18 wheeler Chevy; I never saw one!
If one were looking for that specific CD how would one ID it - does it have a label number? Sounds
On Aug 7, 2012, at 2:03 PM, David Lewis wrote:
> Is it possible that digital was somewhere in the chain of "Cheap Trick at
> Budokan." Historically it is possible:
> The PCM-1 was in use and already being marketed by April of 1978 when
> the Budokan concerts were recorded. At that time, Sony was using 2" Betamax
> the disc was being developed, but was not putting out acceptable results
> yet as either a recording or playback format. However, April 1978 is a bit
> before the
> fateful meeting with Karajan mentioned in this corporate history.