Audio Format Guide

The Audio Format Guide for audio video installations is based around the map, a colored graphic that looks similar to a family tree. For the first time you will see how each development fits into the bigger picture, which developments were happening concurrently, and how a new technology grew out of its predecessor. The  Audio Format Guide is intended as a reference tool and is an objective way of surveying our sound recording heritage. Though not exhaustive, the structure of the Guide is designed for continual expansion. The clearest path in following the legacy of audio recording is through its media migration, or its formats. All recording technology is based on the formats that can store it. Whether acoustic (mechanical), analog or digital, only five formats and their combinations have been used to store all the sound that we have ever recorded. We also offers a video format guide as well.

CYLINDER – A drum rotating on its axis with a line etched into an alterable surface representing sound in time.

DISC or DISK for digital formats – A flat round platter with a line etched onto its alterable surface in a spiral representing sound in time.

MAGNETIC – Altering the magnetic polarities on a medium that can be magnetized or demagnetized in a line, representing sound in time.

OPTICAL – a light beam emitted onto a photosensitive medium, altering it chemically or physically in a line representing sound in time.

SOLID STATE – All-electronic information storage with no mechanical components.

With all format systems, reproduction is basically the reverse of the recording process. With all systems there is a mechanism which writes, or records the information to be stored onto the medium. Then there is a similar mechanism to read or reproduce that information.

Instructions for Guide:
Roll your pointer to the year. The inventions and developments will appear in the text box above it, and the flashes on the map indicate when they happened. On the entries that say (click for picture) click on that year and its pictures will pop up.

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