Karaoke music consists of songs with the lead vocals removed from the track. The word "karaoke" is derived from the Japanese words "kara" and "okesutora." "Kara" means "empty," and "okesutora" translates to "orchestra." Recording engineers use the term "empty track" to refer to a track with no vocals. Most commonly, karaoke refers to the popular activity where participants sing along to an empty track with a microphone and a video screen displaying the lyrics.
In 1969, karaoke was invented by Daisuke Inoue in Japan. Inoue conceived of the idea of a karaoke machine after a businessman requested he make instrumentals of his favorite songs. He took his idea to a band member's friend, who had an electronics shop. The original karaoke machine consisted of a an amplifier, a microphone, eight-track car stereo and a coin box. It took two months to assemble and cost approximately $425 per unit.
The machines did not become available to the public until 1971. The machines began selling quickly after two club owners from Kobe took the machines to Osaka. Inoue was building 25,000 units and shipping them all over Japan. Inoue did not patent the machine, as he did not expect karaoke to become a global phenomenon.