Granddaughter Lisa, seen here enjoying the pink headphones we sent her for her ninth birthday, has been listening to stereophonic music on headphones for much of her life.
Not so for her ancient grandfather.
I, who was born two days before the first atomic explosion, also pre-date commercial stereophonic sound.
I was in junior high school in 1958 when the first two-channel stereo vinyl records came onto the market. Our neighbors, the aptly-named Joneses, were the first people I knew to own a stereo phonograph and they played the grooves off of Henry Mancini’s “Music from Peter Gunn” and one or two Johnny Mathis albums.
Nobody I knew, including my audiophile high school band director, had headphones.
My first encounter with headphones came around 1960 or 1961 at a record store on Main Street in Lafayette, Ind. The store had two or three headphone-equipped turntables on a big table up at the front of the store by the plate glass window. They made it possible to listen to records before you bought them and without disturbing other shoppers. I spent hours being amazed at what I could hear on headphones that eluded my notice when played through speakers.
But it wasn’t until 1968 or ‘69, when I bought a Fisher stereo with a headphone jack, that I bought my first set of headphones. They were made by David Clark and were considered excellent for their day. The David Clark Co,. is out of the audiophile business now, but pretty much owns the aviation headphone market.
Headphone use really took off in 1979 with the introduction of the Walkman by SONY, which paved the way for an even greater explosion of personal stereo music with the iPod in November, 2001.
I have several sets of earbuds and headphones, but I have yet to find a pair that are as comfortable as those old David Clark ‘phones.
Maybe I should try some pink ones like Lisa’s.