Sony Returns to Vinyl Record Manufacturing

Hipsters rejoice! Sony is re-entering the vinyl record market, thirty years after it abandoned the format.  Sony ceased manufacture of records in 1989 to focus on compact discs (CDs), a format it helped develop.

CD Killed the Vinyl Star

In 1982, Sony, in partnership with Philips, created the CD as we know it. When released, a 120mm CD boasted more storage space (737MB) than a home PC hard drive (typically 10MB). A CD can store up to 80 minutes of audio. Rumour has it that this length was dictated by Sony exec Norio Ohga, who wanted the format to be able to contain the entirety of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, his favourite musical piece. Kees Schouhamer Immink, one of the inventors of the CD, later debunked the story, though.

Vinyl led the audio market until the 1980s. Up to that point, the compact cassette and 8-track cassette provided the only competition to 12-inch, 10-inch, and 7-inch records. Neither format managed to usurp the mighty vinyl. The advent of the CD, though, changed everything. The digital format surged during the Eighties. By the mid-Nineties, vinyl’s popularity plummeted. Many media retailers stopped carrying the format by the turn of the new millennium.

Rebirth of Cool

However, vinyl has seen a resurgence in recent years, mainly thanks to audiophiles. Fans claim the analogue format provides a richer, clearer sound than digital alternatives. Records are now enjoyed by music fans young and old. Both vintage and new releases have seen remarkable sales. The format’s recent peak means marketers expect vinyl sales to total $1bn/£770m by the year’s end.

Sony will now return to its old stomping ground. In the Seventies, the Japanese company produced almost 200 million records a year. With manufacturers struggling to meet the recent surge in demand, Sony intends to plug that gap. The company is even seeking older engineers familiar with vinyl manufacture, the AFP reports.

Ashley Allen

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