Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's on the Radio?

Driving our cars with the radio blasting is just a way of life but it has become so much more than just a radio and music these days.  I heard a song the other day while driving to work and it got me thinking about when did the first radios appeared in automobiles.  Well it turns out that mass produced radios built for vehicles were not available until the late 1920’s.  So I researched this little known fact and began to see how quickly things developed with different forms of entertainment in our vehicles.  I remember seeing a Cadillac owned by Elvis in the Country Music Hall of Fame and it had a 45 rpm record player in the back seat so that he could listen to any music of his choice whenever he wanted.  Now that car was custom made for Elvis by historic car builder George Barris, but it was interesting to see what could be done with an unlimited budget. 

Let’s see just how far we have come with electronics in our cars;
The First FM Radio was introduced in 1952, and the First 8-Track Tape Player was available in 1965.  I guess because we had a thirst for something better the first in-car Stereo came along in 1969 and the cassette tape player became popular in the mid 1970’s.  In 1982 Bose became the first “Premium” stereo system in cars. (I wonder just how “Premium” it was back then?)  As the new age began to take hold, the first factory installed in-dash CD player was available around 1985.* 
After the whole “music in our vehicles” evolution was in full swing, it was time to usher in a new type of media into our cars and trucks; the Navigation system.  They were first introduced in cars in the late 80’s and early 90’s and that opened a whole new adventure for all of us to enjoy (or be frustrated at when they don’t work correctly).  Even though some of the early systems were not very effective, they at least pushed the envelope of technology.  The next big step in the world of vehicle navigation was the use of GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) in 1995.  The first system was reportedly introduced by Oldsmobile and was called GuideStar.*
With the advances in technology that have taken place just in my 43 years, I have to ask, what’s next?  If he were still alive, I wonder how crazy it would sound to try and explain Face Book, Texting, or Twitter to my Grandfather.  Can you also imagine how I would explain the fact that you can now talk to your car and just say “Rascal Flatts” and you car will automatically begin to play your collection of Rascal Flatts music from the hard drive that comes factory in the dash of your car.  Wow……times have changed!
*Reference:  Car and Driver Magazine Oct. 2010.