TECnology Hall of Fame

TECnology Hall of Fame

Compared to medicine or agriculture, the history of professional audio has been a comparatively short 125 years or so—barely a ripple in geologic time. But a whole lot has happened in that century and a quarter. True, other innovations also emerged in that era—from automobiles to aviation, telephones to television, exploring outer space to cyberspace—but for we true devotees, audio is what counts.

To expand the scope of the 20th annual TEC Awards, the Mix Foundation created a TECnology Hall of Fame to spotlight the long and rich history of the pro audio industry. Selecting just 25 inductees from a 125-year heritage turned out to be a difficult task, indeed. An elite committee of more than 50 industry leaders, engineers, producers, designers, educators, journalists and historians volunteered to help, with the only “rule” being that any selections must be at least 10 years old.

So set your time machine (analog, of course) waaaay back and enjoy this magic carpet ride through the annals of audio.

1877 Thomas Edison Cylinder Recorder

There is no doubt that Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) played a major role in the development of recorded sound....

1887 Emile Berliner Gramophone Disc Recorder/Player

The origin of recorded audio is frequently attributed to Edison, yet Emile Berliner ...

1898 Telegraphone Wire Recorder

Tape recorders may not be as important as they once were in modern recording studios, yet magnetic recording technology continues to permeate our lives ...

1906 Lee De Forest Triode Vacuum Tube

If audio would have followed the course of every other technology, then vacuum tubes would have been long forgotten by now....

Edwin Armstrong Regenerative Feedback (1913), Superheterodyning (1918), FM (1933)

Born December 18, 1890, Edwin Armstrong developed an interest in wireless technology as a teenager. ...

1915: First Audio Filter/Bandpass EQ Circuit

George Ashley Campbell joined AT&T’s engineering department in 1897. His initial research was in improving the performance of long-distance telephone lines. He later focused his research on audio filter development, creating the classic L-C (inductor and capacitor) filters that are widely used in analog tone control and filtering circuits. ...

1916 The Condenser Microphone

Edward Christopher “EC” Wente had a fruitful career during his tenure at Western Electric/Bell Labs from 1914 to 1954....

1919 Leon Theremin Theremin

Who would believe an innovative electronic musical instrument developed in 1919 could maintain its massive cult status and popularity after nearly 90 years....

1925 Chester Rice & Edward Kellogg, General Electric Co. Modern Dynamic Loudspeaker

Timing is everything and the development of the modern dynamic loudspeaker by two General Electric engineers—Chester W. Rice and Edward W. Kellogg...

1925 Western Electric/Bell Labs Electrical Recording

No technology breakthrough in audio recording created such a stir as the development of the electrical recording process....

1926: Western Electric 555-w First Compression Driver

In 1926, talking motion-picture development was well under way, but with the low-power amps available at the time, high-output reproduction was pretty much out of the question. Given that premise, two Bell Labs engineers, Edward C. Wente and Albert L. Thuras, offered what they described as an acoustical device using a “light piston-type diaphragm” driven by a light rigid coil. The diaphragm/voice coil was set within a dense electromagnetic structure and designed to mount onto a horn. ...

1926 Western Electric/Bell Labs Vitaphone Film Sound

In terms of upheavals, the biggest revolution in 20th-century audio was surely the talking motion picture. ...

1928 Neumann CMV3 Condenser Microphone

Microphones were and always will be the most loved legacy of Georg Neumann. The story starts more than a century ago. ...

1928 Harry Nyquist Nyquist Theorem

It’s hard to imagine that a man born on February 7, 1889, in the small town of Nilsby, Sweden,...

1928 Western Electric 618A Dynamic Microphone

The first dynamic/moving coil microphone was patented in 1874 by Ernst Siemens, but never caught on...

1931 Alan Dower Blumlein Stereo Patent

Born in London in 1903, Alan Dower Blumlein lived a short life, but during those 38 years, he changed the way that an entire world listens....

1931 Harry F. Olson and Les Anderson, RCA Model 44 Ribbon Microphone

When engineers Les Anderson and Harry F. Olson joined RCA in 1928, talking motion pictures were the rage, radio was king and sound reinforcement systems were coming into their own....

1933 Fletcher-Munson Loudness Curves

Nearly 75 years ago, Harvey C. Fletcher and Wilden A. Munson—two Bell Labs engineers studying subjective...

1935 AEG Magnetophon Tape Recorder

The genealogy of the tape recorder can be traced back to Valdemar Poulsen’s early demonstration of magnetic sound recordings on a steel wire in 1899....

1935 Shearer Horn

n the late 1920s, cinema audio playback was dismal. Western Electric had a single driver on a large re-entrant...

1937: Lansing Iconic First Recording Studio Monitor

James B. Lansing founded Lansing Manufacturing Company in 1927, initially building loudspeakers for radios. But with the rise of talking motion pictures, he supplied woofers, compression drivers and manufacturing for the Shearer Horn, the first large-scale, high-fidelity system for theater sound reproduction. For film mix stages, he developed the huge Monitor System 500, pairing a single 15-driver in a “W” box and a sizeable multicell horn. ...

1939: Pulse Code Modulation

Discoveries occasionally occur long before the current technology is ready to accept and support them. This is certainly the case with British physicist Alec Harley Reeves, who proposed Pulse Code Modulation (PCM), one of the cornerstone principles of digital audio, more than four decades before the first commercial digital audio recorder. ...

1940 Shure Unidyne Model 55

Seeking to create a low-cost cardioid dynamic microphone, Shure engineer Benjamin Bawmzweiger...

1940 Walter Weber AC Tape Bias

Born 100 years ago, Dr. Walter Weber was a Siemens engineer who was recruited by Dr. Hans Joachim Von Braunmühl to work for Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft ...

1944 Altec Lansing 604 Duplex Speaker

Altec Lansing's famed 604 was not the first Duplex® coaxial speaker; that honor goes to the company's 1941 model 601...

1947 Altec Lansing Voice of the Theatre Speakers

From the big cities to the farms and small towns, American life in the post-WWII era was good. ...

1947 JBL D130 Loudspeaker

A year after founding Lansing Sound (now JBL), James B. Lansing began working on a high-performance woofer...

1948 Ampex Model 200A Tape Recorder

The story of the 200A—the first tape recorder from Ampex—is inextricably linked to the history of the German Magnetophon. After World War II...

1948 Tannoy Dual Concentric Loudspeaker

Founded in 1926 by Guy R. Fountain, Tannoy built its first discrete, two-way speaker systems in 1933...

1949 Neumann U47 Microphone

The U47 was not Neumann’s first microphone or even its first mass-produced condenser mic...

1951 Pulse Techniques Pultec EQP-1 Program Equalizer

Pultec founders Gene Shenk and Ollie Summerland unveiled the first passive program EQ in 1951....

1953 AKG C12 Multipattern Tube Microphone

Besides making history as the first true multipattern microphone with remote polar control, AKG’s C12 ...

1954 Hammond B-3

When clock manufacturer Laurens Hammond introduced his first tone wheel organ in 1935, he had no idea that he’d launched a groundbreaking instrument...

1955 Ampex Sel-Sync

The development of Sel-Sync (Selective Synchronous) recording by Ampex a half-century ago eventually turned the recording world upside down...

1956: Ampex VRX-1000 First Commercial Video Recorder

The concept for the videotape recorder hails from Bing Crosby’s audio engineer, Jack Mullin, who brought the first German tape recorders to America after World War II. In 1946, Crosby fronted Ampex the capital to begin building audio tape recorders. Four years later, with the advent of television, Mullin talked to Crosby about the notion of recording TV programs on tape. ...

1956 Neumann Stereo Disk Lathe

In 1953, Neumann engineers began developing the AM 32, a disk lathe with the ability of varying the groove pitch, controlled by the amplitude of the input signal...

1957 Stefan Kudelski Nagra III Tape Recorder

Born in 1929 in Warsaw, Stefan Kudelski was only 10 when his family fled Poland, to Hungary and France...

1957 EMT Model 140 Plate Reverb

Today, with the proliferation of low- and high-end digital reverberation, room simulators and the like...

1958 Cannon XLR Connector

Originally, the XLR was intended for aircraft and instrumentation applications—rather than audio...

1959 Rein Narma Fairchild 670 Compressor Limiter

The Fairchild 670 is often referred to as the "holy grail" of outboard devices...

1959 Telefunken (AKG) ELA M 251

There are many fans of Telefunken mics, with its U47 and ELA M Series leading the pack. ...

1960: Sennheiser MD 421

In 1959, company founder Dr. Fritz Sennheiser worked with design engineers Paul-Friedrich Warning and Johann-Friedrich Fischer to take its successful MD-21 omnidirectional microphone to the next step. The project was the MD 421, a rugged dynamic mic with a tight cardioid pattern that was consistent at nearly all frequencies, with high SPL handling (up to 175 dB) and a five-step LF attenuation circuit for tweaking bass response. ...

1965 Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone

How exactly does a $99 microphone become a Hall of Fame inductee? Well, if that mic is the Shure SM57, the answer comes easy. ...

1965 Teletronix LA-2A Leveling Amplifier

Some 40 years after its invention, the story of the Teletronix LA-2A continues to be written, but one thing that remains constant is the demand...

1966 Georg Neumann Company 48-Volt Phantom Power

Phantom power is nothing new; in fact, the concept hails back to the early days of telegraph and telephone technology ...

1966 Ray Dolby Dolby A-Type Noise Reduction

Ray Dolby has lived and breathed audio since his earliest years. While still in high school, he worked at Ampex...

1967 Crown International DC 300 Power Amplifier

In many ways, the 1967 introduction of the AB+B-class DC 300 ushered in the era of the modern, high power amplifier. ...

1967 Neumann U87

When a microphone remains in production for nearly 40 years, words like “classic” certainly apply, but the roots of the U87 go back much further....

1967 Time Delay Spectrometry

In 1967, Richard C. Heyser, a research engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology published a paper in the AES Journal titled “Acoustical Measurements by Time Delay Spectrometry.”...

1968 API 550A Equalizer

In 1967, Saul Walker designed the first 12-track recording console for Apostolic Studios (New York City)...

1968 Universal Audio/UREI 1176 Peak Limiter

Long considered a classic, the 1176 peak limiter story began when engineer/producer/designer/studio owner Bill Putnam ...

1969 George Massenburg ITI ME-230 Parametric Equalizer

With so many tools available at our fingertips, it's hard to imagine a time before parametric equalizers existed...

1969 TEAC 1/4-Inch Simul-Sync 4-Tracks

Go back 35 years and there was no home recording market. In 1969, the first 24-tracks were becoming available...

1970 Rupert Neve Neve 1073 Console Module

In 1970, Rupert Neve designed the first 1073 mic preamp module for a new A88 console for Wessex Studios....

1970 Robert Moog Moog Music Minimoog Synthesizer

Even though his name is nearly synonymous with synthesizers, Bob Moog didn't invent the instrument. In fact, his Minimoog wasn't even his first creation or the most powerful....

1971 AKG C-414 Condenser Microphone

The availability of reliable, quality Field Effect Transistors in the 1960s opened the door for replacing tube mics with compact, solid state models....

1971 Lexicon/Gotham Delta T-101 Digital Delay

Pro audio was forever changed when Lexicon introduced the world’s first commercial digital audio processor in 1971....

1971 Thiele-Small Vented Enclosure Parameters

Speaker design has long been considered some kind of black magic. Yet a major step forward came when two researchers...

1972 MCI JH-400 Series Inline Console

MCI Electronics founder Grover C. “Jeep” Harned was a pro audio innovator, from the first 24-track recorder—a modified Ampex 300 in 1968...

1974 JBL 4311 Studio Monitors

Once upon a time—meaning about 30 years ago—monitors in U.S. studios were either custom designs (typically developed from JBL or Altec components), Altec 604E coaxials in “utility” cabinets or JBL’s large 4320 two-way horn systems....

1975 Eventide H910 Harmonizer

When you name a product after a Beatles tune (the model number refers to the “One After 909”), it better be good. However, when Eventide founder Richard Factor assigned his young designer Anthony Agnello...

1976 dbx 160 (VU) Compressor/Limiter

David Blackmer founded dbx in 1971, based on the concept of using decibel expansion ...

1976 EMT Model 250 Digital Reverb

Considered one of the pioneers of digital audio, Dr. Barry Blesser helped launch Lexicon in 1971 and developed the EMT 250, the first commercial digital reverb, in 1976....

1976 Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Recorder

Unveiled nearly 30 years ago at AES in 1976, the Ampex ATR-102 (the 2-channel version of the company's ATR-100 Series recorders) is still considered by many to be the best mastering deck ever built....

1976 Dolby Laboratories Dolby Stereo Theater Sound

The roots of multichannel theater sound hail back to Disney's Fantasia, which, in 1940, appeared in certain theaters with a “steered” 3-channel optical track played by a truckload of equipment. ...

1977 Solid State Logic SL 4000 Series Studio Console

There are many terms used to describe innovators in technology, but “visionary” certainly applies to Colin Sanders. More than 25 years ago, his design for the Solid State Logic SL 4000 mixer...

1977 Thomas Stockham Soundstream Digital Recording System

For those who believe “digital” began with digital audio workstations in the late 1980s, it’s important to remember that the first commercial digital recordings...

1977 UREI 813 Studio Monitors

In the mid-’70s, UREI founder Bill Putnam—unhappy with the sound of the Altec 604 monitors in his United Western Studios—worked with UREI’s Dean Austin and Dennis Fink on ways to improve the 604....

1977 Yamaha NS-10M Speakers

From Yamaha’s consumer hi-fi group, 1977’s most inauspicious audio debut was surely the NS-10M. ...

1978 3M Digital Audio Mastering System

Best known for its lines of tape media and professional analog recorders, with its M series of multitrack and 2-track machines, the Mincom division of 3M spent several years developing a digital recording system...

1978 Lexicon 224 Digital Reverb

Unveiled at the AES show in 1978, the Lexicon 224 was not the first digital reverb (that honor goes to EMT’s 250), but the 224 (and its 224X and 224XL cousins)...

1978 New England Digital Synclavier

From a technology standpoint, the 1978 launch of New England Digital’s Synclavier—the first commercially available, real-time digital synthesis instrument—was a monumental achievement....

1978: Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 First Programmable Polyphonic Synth

An analog synth that could play five notes simultaneously and could store a whopping 40 programs (later expanded to 120) might not create headlines today, but the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 was a sensation in its time, and it’s still a classic. ...

1978 Studer A800 Multitrack

Since its founding 60 years ago, Studer has a long history of building high-performance, precision recorders...

1979 Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument)

Fairlight was founded in 1975 by Kim Ryrie and Peter Vogel, who were interested in using the newly available microprocessors to create digitally controlled synthesizers....

1979 Roger Linn, Linn Electronics LM-1 Drum Computer

It isn't often that an inventor creates a musical instrument that almost overnight changes the course of popular music, but Roger Linn is one such innovator. The concept of the drum machine wasn't exactly new...

1979 TEAC Portastudio

The music industry forever changed at the 1979 New York AES Show with the introduction of the TEAC Model 144 Portastudio®, an integrated 4-track cassette recorder with Dolby B noise reduction...

1980 Meyer Sound Labs UPA-1 Arrayable Trapezoidal Speaker

ince its earliest days, sound reinforcement has traditionally been a very conservative market that was slow to acccept change. However, everything changed in 1980, when John Meyer unveiled the UPA-1...

1980 Trident Series 80 Console

It isn't often that a console company comes out of a recording studio, but that's the case with Trident. ...

1981 Sony PCM-F1 Digital Recording Processor

Once in a while, an audio product arrives that’s a failure in the consumer realm (such as the DAT format or Yamaha’s NS-10 speakers) but is a hit with pro recordists. Sony’s PCM-F1 is one such example....

1981 Sony PCM-3324

In the late ’70s, Sony launched a program to provide pro users with tools to support the impending consumer digital audio revolution. Toshitada Doi led a team of 30 researchers set on bringing digital to the pro market....

1983 Dave Smith, Sequential Circuits MIDI Specification

The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) had its origins when Sequential Circuits' founder (and designer of the Prophet-5, the first fully programmable polyphonic synth)...

1983 Kurzweil 250

After inventing a number of firsts—text-to-speech synthesis, the CCD flatbed scanner, Omni-Font optical character recognition ...

1983 Yamaha DX7 Synthesizer

Every decade or so, a keyboard instrument comes out that not only is adopted by musicians, but also shapes the course of pop music....

1985 Audio Precision System One

In 1984, four former Tektronix engineers formed Audio Precision with the intent of becoming “the quality leader in the audio test equipment market.”...

1985: Future Sonics Ear Monitors First In-Ear Monitoring System

Three decades ago, Marty Garcia had a vision of a different way of stage monitoring, where artists would wear earpieces carrying a personal monitor mix. At first, Garcia used consumer earbuds, but he soon saw the need for a more specialized approach and started working with audiologists to supply custom ear molds. ...

1987 Sonic Solutions NoNoise

In 1984, Lucasfilm and Convergence Corp. formed The Droid Works, and under the leadership of Andy Moorer, showed its SoundDroid™...

1990 CEDAR—Computer Enhanced Digital Audio Restoration

In 1985 the British Library National Sound Archive funded digital audio restoration research at Cambridge University...

1990 Mackie CR-1604 Mixer

Go back to 1989, and you’ll enter an audio world that was pre-ADAT and pre-Pro Tools—even the first digital audio sequencer...

1990 Opcode Studio Vision Digital Audio Sequencer

Ideas sometimes come when you least expect them. In the late ’80s, Paul de Benedictis—Opcode’s marketing guy...

1991 Alesis ADAT Modular Digltal Multitrack

The Alesis ADAT changed the entire recording industry, beginning a revolution of affordable recording tools. Overnight, the cost of digital studio recording plummeted from a sizable...

1991 Digidesign Pro Tools

On January 20, 1989, Digidesign founders Evan Brooks and Peter Gotcher unveiled Sound Tools, a Mac-based (SE or Mac II) 2-track digital recording/editing system....

1992: Waves Q10 Paragraphic EQ First Audio Plug-In

The concept of plug-ins—additions that add functionality to established programs—dates back to text editors running on Univac mainframes in the 1970s. By 1991, plug-ins came on the scene, mainly as filter effects sets for paint and photo-manipulation software. Although few realized it then, the audio world was about to see some rather significant changes in the years to come. ...

1995 Yamaha 02R Digital Console

At the APRS (UK studio) show in 1995, Yamaha unveiled its less-than-$10,000 02R 20-bit 8-bus console, offering 24 analog inputs and 16 digital tape returns for a total of 40 inputs in remix....

1997: Antares Auto-Tune

Antares Audio Technologies was founded in 1990 as Jupiter Systems by Dr. Harold “Andy” Hildebrand, a geophysical scientist who created the first stand-alone workstation for seismic data interpretation. Merging his knowledge of DSP, audio and music composition, in 1994 Jupiter developed MDT™ (Multiband Dynamics Tool), one of the first commercial plug-ins for Pro Tools. ...




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