Making and listening to music has always been a fundamental human need. Before the invention of recording you could only hear music if someone was prepared to play or sing it.
Being able to record sounds was always a dream of inventors. Although musical boxes and barrel organs allowed people to hear music without anyone having to play, the sound was very limited.
The sale of sheet music was a big business. In order to hear their favourite songs, families would buy the music and play it on their piano at home.
In 1877, inventor Thomas Edison built a machine to record sound, and publicly demonstrated his "phonograph" playing his recitation of "Mary had a little lamb"
To start with, the phonograph had a major disadvantage - the records could not be easily duplicated. Emile Berliner overcame this by developing a method of recording on a flat disc which could be copied over and over again.
In 1897, the first gramophones were sold in England and by August 1898, the first disc records were being recorded in London. These are called "Berliner" Records, after the name of the inventor.
The gramophone gradually gained respectability. At first most records were made by concert singers or popular artists. However by the early 1900s, the sound quality had improved sufficiently for stars such as Nellie Melba to record their voices.
Cylinder records competed with the flat discs for a number of years, but by the time of the First World War, the disc record had become the standard.
This painting by Francis Barraud originally featured a phonograph, but this was painted out and replaced by a gramophone to become the famous "His Master's Voice"
The gramophone became an accepted part of the 20th century. By 1914 over one third of all British households owned a machine. - Where are they all today?
During the Great War, the gramophone provided entertainment for those at the front. It was also used for recruitment to the Forces.
The 1920s were a golden age of popular music. The war had cut short the youth of a generation and they were determined to make up for lost time. This they did to the sound of jazz and dance music.
Up until 1925, all records were made by performing into a horn, which limited the range and type of music. By using the microphone, recordings of public performances became much easier - such as Ernest Lough's "O for the wings of a Dove"
Although the early thirties were times of depression, the decade is noted for the many fine orchestral records which were made. One of the most famous recordings is that of Yehudi Menuhin playing Elgar's Violin Concerto.
The war opened Europe to American Swing Music. Glenn Miller and his band were especially popular. Special "V" or Victory discs were issued to American servicemen
Because of material shortages, appeals were made during both World Wars for old records to be recycled. Unfortunately for record collectors this resulted in many rare records being lost.
Records have been made of some famous people. During the Second World War, Churchill recorded many of his famous speeches
The first 33 rpm long playing records were introduced in America in 1948. At the same time, seven inch 45rpm discs were introduced for popular music. These together sounded the death knell of the 78rpm disc
The fifties were a boom time for records with new types of music including the UK's home grown "skiffle" groups. Juke boxes were advertised as suitable for providing church music!
In 1958 the first stereo records were issued in the UK, enabling listeners to feel that they were really able to locate the position of the artists in the room. First examples often included demonstration effects, such as steam trains
In 1982 the first Compact Discs appeared which promised "perfect sound for ever" Played by a laser and not a stylus, they have now made the LP as old fashioned as the 78 rpm disc was in 1960.
In 1987 work commenced on audio compression, originally for digital television. The first mp3 player was produced in 1999. Despite concerns over sound quality it has become the dominant audio format for portable music players.