Humans have been writing music for at least as long as we've been recording history. It was storing it that took a little more time. Here are all the ways we've done it to date:
For full resolution, click here.
It wasn't until the beginning of the 20th century that mass-produced recordings were available to the average person—the concept of buying music is amazingly new. (Or to some, ooooooold.) Just a century ago, the first records began to do for music what the Gutenberg press did for words. Before them, music was handed crudely from person to person; after, it could reach millions, untouched and unspoiled.
If we couldn't record music, the Beatles would have never left Liverpool. By the same token the Jonas Brothers would have never left Georgia or Disney World or the Old Testament or wherever the hell they came from. Talk about progress! There may be no accounting for taste, but you can thank these reproducible formats for the very existence of the notion of pop music.
Listening Test: It's music tech week at Gizmodo.