Exploring the history of home video and music media

I may need help (honestly). Anyone want to go on this data quest with me?

It wasn’t until November, when Led Zeppelin offered their new concert film (Celebration Day) on Blu-ray, that I asked myself, “Is it finally time to stop buying DVDs?” So I began to dig into the history of home video formats, and decided it would be fun to build a timeline (presented here) of both music and film media over the past 135 years.

Timeline of music and movie media types

This timeline screenshot (in Excel) is a very crude draft of what I’m aiming for. The quest is purely for my own interest, but if anyone else has good data, infographics, books, and links to share on the topic, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m sure I’m biting off more than I can chew, but I’m also interested in what the timeline implies for issues about copyright and the changing face of information exchange and media consumption in general.

  • Claire B

    MaKensie and I were talking about this quite recently, actually. We were talking about it in reference to digital media and how long cds were (are!) in existence. I was arguing that they were brief, but have yet to be phased out because they have the ability to store data in the format in which it’s currently played (Mp3).
    I’m glad you included the phonograph. I went to a player piano/phonograph museum in Wales a long time ago that was really fascinating. They had one transcription of Gershwin playing rhapsody in blue that was transcribed into player piano. Very cool!

    • Good point about the CD as storage for things like MP3s. I’m not sure it will last more than 5 more years, though, since the data capacity is so small. People are saying we’re more device-oriented now, but there will always be a demand for a disc of some sort. Maybe hi-def mini-disc Blu-ray audio or something. Haven’t gotten that far in my research. And yes, phonograph history is fascinating!

  • Nick DiUbaldi

    Don’t forget the video format wars: Beta/VHS and HD-DVD/Blu-ray.  Laserdisc is probably worth mentioning.  Other obscure things that never really caught on: DVD-Audio and Super Audio CD (SACD.) Remember Dad’s reel-to-reels?

    • I’ll do my best, Brother. I don’t remember Dad’s reel-to-reels. What did he have on them?