am raised in Denmark in the 60´s, when stereo of course was something new
and exciting. I guess music means something to almost all young people and
when one was lucky to grow up whilst the sound everybody takes for granted
today was evolving, it was hard not to get caught by it. And I did! Here´s
my version of the birth and childhood of stereo in Denmark:
Stereo is older than you think. In France, the Parisian Telephone Company
in 1881 offered its customers stereotransmissions from the Opera over the
telephonewires. They simply put 2 microphones on the stage and connected
them to two telephonelines. That way wealthy people with two
telephonelines could listen to the first form of stereo ever transmitted.
But many years was to pass until somebody finally made stereo available
The first stereorecords came in the USA around 1958. But it was only for
well established artists like Frank Sinatra and such who was allowed into
the extremely costly stereostudios and make stereorecords. Even Elvis wasn´t
making stereorecords until after 1960. The first records by The Beatles
and The Rolling Stones in 1962 was in very poor monoversions. The studios
didn´t believe in those guys and they didn´t want to spend more money
than nescesary on them. Many less known artists was making monorecords as
late as 1970.
From the middle of the 60´s to the late 70´s the equipment for
reproducing stereosound was getting better and better year by year. Every
new model was better than the model before. Better sound and more features
every year. The first stereoreceivers had build-in speakers, on the back
there were plugs for external speakers, but not many people used them in
the early years. People was generally impressed by the “wide”
stereosound that came from those little wooden boxes with one fulltone
speaker on each side of the cabinet.
I the beginning the only source for stereo was the turntable, FM
broadcasting in stereo first began around 1967 in Denmark. Tests were made
already in 1962, but that was with one channel for the TV and the other on
the radio. Not much future there! From 1969 two out of the three danish
radiostations and its transmitters was stereoequiped and the studios was
almost fully stereoequiped. The most popular radiochannel P3 – the one
with the musiccharts and the popular music - didn´t get stereo until
The first stereoreceivers didn´t have the decoder for FM-stereo. They
could only play stereo from a turntable. The first FM-stereoequiped
receivers came around 1969. I clearly remember our first stereoreceiver,
it was a danish build Arena T2500. It had a little orangecoloured lamp
which turned on a soon as the radiostation swtched to stereotransmission.
Some of the first stereoprogrammes here in Denmark was the nighttime
radioshow after midnight. Remember, that Denmark only had three
radiochannels then and they were all run by Danmarks Radio, the national
radiocompany. They pulled the plug at 1 am and put it back in four hours
later and said goodmorning. 24 hours radio in Denmark came around 1976.
Most radioprogrammes around 1970 from Danmarks Radio was made in the old
monostudios, but the midnight program came from the brand new stereostudio,
so if you wanted to see that magic orange light turn on an hear music in
stereo you had to stay up late then. In the middle of the 70´s all the
studios were finally equiped with stereomixers and all programmes came out
in stereo and the little orange light was on all the time. The magic was
about to fade...........
If you wanted to record your own stereotapes when stereo was young in the
60´s, you had to use the reel-to-reel taperecorders. The “King” of
taperecorders here in the 60´s was without doubt Tandberg. The first
models in the early 60´s was 2 track only, you couldn´t reverse the tape
then. Around 1965 the first reverseable 4 track reel-to-reel models came ,
where you could turn the tape at the end, thus doubling the
playingtime. There were usually 3 speeds on them, 19 cm/sek, 9,5 cm/sek
and the lowest one 4,75 cm/sek which was the same speed later to be used
for the Compact Cassette. The higher the speed the better the soundquality.
The Compact Cassette wasn´t introduced (by Philips of course) until 1970.
The first models was mono-only, but in 1973 Philips introduced the first
HiFi-stereocassettedeck, the 2510.
It wasn´t only the audiomarket which was booming in those years,
colour-TV arrived in our lifes at the same time. The clever people at the
danish telecompany Post- og Telegrafvæsenet didn´t believe it was
possible to transmit colour-TV on the ecsisting 15 years old VHF-net. They
wanted to spend 125 million kroners on a new UHF-net for colour-TV
transmissions. Therefore Danmarks Radio waited some years before playing
with colour. But when they discovered, that the German televison companies
started transmitting colour-TV on the old VHF-net in 1966, things suddenly
began to happen. A few testtransmissions in 1967 proved them right, and
the first colourprogrammes on danish TV was from the Winter Olympics in
Grenoble in 1968. The very first danish TV-production to be shown on
danish TV was a cartoon called “Cirkeline” in early 1968. The last
danish TV-program to get colourized was The News (TV-Avisen), which was in
black and white until 1979. I´ll might just ad, that Denmark only had one
TV-channel as late as 1988, when TV2 appeared. At the same time cable-TV
was introduced and we got a chance to see the world.
Here in Copenhagen we could receive the two Swedish TV-stations TV1 and
TV2. They came in colour at the same time as our, but had more
colourprogrammes to begin with, so when we got our first Philips colour TV
in 1972 I had my attention there a lot of the time.
In april 1970 21.000 danes had bought themselfes a colour-TV. The first
models had a 90 degrees tube, which made the TV´s very deep. The first
screensizes was 22” and 26”. Sony had their little 13” beauty on the
market here, but beside that one, most colour-TV´s sold here then was (of
course) from Philips. Right behind them came Bang & Olufsen, Dux and a
couple of other brands.
In the early 70´s production and marketing of stereoequipment for home
use really accelerated. Especially Philips was picking up speed then.
Philips was leading the market in Denmark in those years, with innovative
ideas and beautiful design for each new model. The japanese competitors
was still only looking in from the sideline. Philips invented the Compact
Cassette (and already had the Compact Dics in the oven!) with a modelrange
from the smallest 2x 5 watt non-HiFi radio to the beautiful 720 with its
2x30 watts amplifier, with fingertouch buttons and all.
Around 1974 the japs came storming in, and Philips slowly lost the market.
They´re own mistake really, because when the japs intruduced their
clockworkprecisionbuild quality models made with metal fronts and buttons
with real wooden sides, Philips instead introduced some awful plasticboxes
with bad technology inside. And since the japs even dumped the prices,
Philips had their back to the stereowall. Philips thought their name would
sell the things itself, but it didn´t. By the end of the decade, their
models became even more plasticstyled and the japanese competitors had won
the battle of stereo!
And what was little TaxaFinn listening to on his stereo in those days? It
started in the mid 60´s (I´m from 1959) with stereotapes on my fathers
Tandberg 64X. He had recordings of songs with Elvis, Roy Orbison, Sandy
Posey, Nany Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood, Tom Jones, Rick Nelson the less
konown The Sons Of The Pioneers. I especially enjoyed the stereo through
my headphones, connected to our Arena T1900 receiver with build-in
speakers, since we didn´t have separated speakers on the wall then.
When I started buying my own records in around 1970, it began with The Les
Humpries Singers evolving to glamrock with The Sweet, Slade and lovely (then!)
Suzy Quatro. Soon both Deep Purple, Status Quo, Nazareth, Sailor, Paul
McCartney and Elton John entered my scene.
In the same period, the japs began playing with quadrofonic sound, what we
nowadays know as surround sound. Quadrofonic sound came in 2 systems, they
less exspensive SQ (Stereo Quadro) and the “real” quadrofonic system
called CD4, which had all 4 channels separated from the source to the
speakers. They introduced some extremely big and expensive receivers with
4 discrete amplifiers and Philips answered back with their Ambiofonic
Sound or Stereo 4, which was phasechanged stereo for the rear speakers and
only used 2 amplifiers. A few recordcompanies released a few hundred
quadrofonic records and quadrofonic a FM-radiosystem was planned but never
made. SQ-records could be played on an ordinary stereoturntable with a
quadrofonic receiver, CD4 needed special turntables with real CD4-pickups.
Almost all records with quadrofonic sound was SQ-record, only a few titles
came out in CD4. Second hand quadrofonic records from those days are of
course quite rare and expensive today. Both systems eventually flopped
totally within a few years.
And then the 80´s suddenly appeared around the corner, and the dull and
boring stereoworld we live in now appeared in the horizon.....