The Evolution of a Car’s Radio

Playing the radio in a vehicle was a sensation when it first existed. Nowadays, it seems to be a need for the majority drivers and their passengers to listen to music but also to learn about what’s happening in the outside world. Below, we have compiled some background information on the subject:

Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian electrical engineer and inventor, demonstrated the first long-distance radio transmission in 1901. Marconi’s radio couldn’t receive sound but obtained morse code data. Soon enough, AM radio stations broadcasted audio across America and owning a “radio” was an expensive but necessary object for many Americans.

Now, we’re sure you know that cars did not always have audio systems but did you know when they first appeared? In 1930 the commercial car radio, the “Motorola model 5T71,” was released by the Galvin Corporation. This radio could be put into many cars and a driver paid about $130 (or in today’s dollars, about $1800). An expensive luxury, placed on a car’s dashboard.

Late 1950s and early 1960s –When FM broadcasting began. FM radio was great for listening to songs—as opposed to talk shows–and thus it was during this time period that car dealers started selling vehicles with radios that had AM as well as FM bands.

1970s—This is when the first cassette tape system was placed in a car. This kind of car playback unit survived in vehicles for a while and turned into a popular, robust audio media.

1980s – Less than a decade after vehicle operators could begin using cassette tape units in their car, the audio CD came about. It took some time for car manufacturers to equip their vehicles with CD players, and that process didn’t really happen until the late 1990’s. In fact, for a little both audio tapes and CD player coexisted on the vehicle market.

The 1980s is also when cars began to come with multi-channel audio systems that had separate speakers on the driver’s and passenger’s sides, and on the rear deck.

1990s—This is when car manufacturers were serious about putting CD changer systems into their vehicles. These units let drivers load up to six CDs in it, and switch between them when desired. This was essentially a CD storage system, too, preventing the driver from having to find somewhere to store their CDs in the car when not in use.

2010s—This is when internet radio started to become popular. Some vehicle’s head units may now play music from the cloud, while others can connect to satellite radio stations via Pandora, Aha or iHeartRadio.
Nowadays, many car audio systems have auxiliary audio inputs. These let drivers hook up digital music with devices like cell phones and MP3 players. According to this Langhorne, PA Chevy dealer, it is also possible to get a vehicle that offers USB and Bluetooth capability. This allows for syncing of most any portable audio device to an audio system. Thanks for reading—we hope this article has been informative!

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