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A microphone is a device that converts acoustic power into electric power, sound waves to electrical voltages, then converted into sound waves that are amplified through speakers.

We associate microphones often with the music and the entertainment industry, but the device can be dated back as early as the 1600s when scientists figured out that they could amplify sound.


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The microphone in the 1600s

The microphone in the 1600s

The word "microphone" was not used during this time until the 19th century but an English physicist and inventor named Robert Hooke developed an acoustic cup and string style phone, where he was considered to be a pioneer in the field of transmitting sound across a distance.


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The microphone in the 1800s

  • 1827 - The first person to ever coin the word "microphone" was Sir Charles Wheatstone who was a renowned English physicist and inventor. He was among the first scientists to formally recognize that sound waves were "transmitted by waves through mediums."
  • 1876-8 - The first modern microphone was invented by Emile Berliner who worked alongside the famed inventor Thomas Edison. Soon after, David Edward Hughes developed the first carbon microphone.


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The microphone in the early 1900s

  • The condenser microphone was patented by EC Wente in 1916
  • The RCA company developed the first ribbon microphone used for radio broadcasting in 1920
  • Georg Neumann designed the first commercial condenser microphone in 1928
  • The first dynamic microphone was marketed by Western Electric in 1931
  • A patent was filed for the first wireless microphone by Raymond A Litke in 1957
  • The first uni-directional microphone device was a new level of design that collects sound from the top of the microphone in 1959.


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The microphone in the late 1900s

  • James West and Gerhard Sessler patented the electroacoustic transducer, an electret microphone in 1964.
  • In the 1970s, both the dynamic and condenser mics were further enhanced for clearer sound recording and a lower sound level sensitivity.
  • In the 1980s the first clip-on microphones were developed by Sennheiser.
  • In the 1990s, Neumann introduced a condenser microphone designed for live performances which set a new standard for quality.


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The microphone in the 21st century

  • During the 2000s the trend was miniature mics that were applicable for portable devices. MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) made inroads for this technology.
  • In 2010, the Eigenmike was released. It's a microphone that's composed of several high-quality microphones that were arranged onto the surface of a solid sphere.


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