How Did People Listen to Music in the 1950s?

In the 1950s, people listened to music on the radio, on a turntable or on television. The turntable and the television were relatively new to consumers and were popular choices.

The turntable, also called a record player, was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison, who called it a phonograph. Later versions were called gramophones and Victrolas. By the late 1940s, high-fidelity and stereophonic sound were introduced, along with the vinyl LP. In the 1950s, because of these improvements, consumption of record players and records had sharply increased.

The Depression limited sales of early record players and the original records, which were much thicker and called Edison Diamond Discs or shellac discs. A combination of the renewed economy, new thinner LPs and new console radio systems with disc-changing record players, called record changers, continued to drive sales. In the 1950s, radio and record-player consoles with stereo sound were common household objects. Hundreds of artists, such as Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole and Patsy Cline, recorded their albums for consumers on vinyl LPs.

Televisions had just been introduced to households in the same time period, so music programs were popular on TV too. Shows such as “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “American Bandstand” and “The Lawrence Welk Show” were another way people listened to music.