This page is dedicated to the three enterprising visionaries who brought high-fidelity stereophonic music into the home: Emory Cook of Cook Laboratories; C.E. (Ched) Smiley of Livingston Electronic Corp. and Sidney Frey of Audio Fidelity Inc.

The public first heard true high fidelity stereophonic sound in a movie theater and that story can be found on this page: First Year of Stereophonic Motion Pictures.  

The first seven years of high fidelity music in the home began with the initial group of mono tape releases by Recording Associates in 1950. Binaural records were sold by Cook Laboratories, Atlantic Records and Livingston Electronic Corporation in 1953 and the first binaural reel to reel tapes appeared from A-V Tape Libraries, Audiosphere and RCA Victor in 1954. To put this chronology in perspective, I'll include some noteworthy events which occurred during this time relating to stereo movies and recording sessions.

In order to make this listing as complete and accurate as possible, I have done original research and the data on this page was compiled from documented primary sources. The information was found in Billboard, Cash Box, Audio Magazine, Saturday Review, High Fidelity, HiFi & Music Review, Magnetic Film & Tape Recording, Variety, Complete Catalogue of Stereo Music, Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog and assorted vintage newspapers.

by Bob Furmanek

June, August and November 1949: Livingston Electronic Corp. run their first ads in Audio Engineering. Within a few years, they will play a significant role in the binaural story.


1950: The first mono pre-recorded tapes are sold by Recording Associates. In a 1958 interview for 
Hi-Fi Tape Recording, Joseph F. Hards recalled their humble beginnings.

February 14, 1951: Variety and Billboard report on the growing tape market. Audio & Video Products Corp. acquire the Recording Associates library and begin issuing mono tapes. Their first catalog offers ten reels.

May 1951: The Festival of Britain's Telecinema opens with a trio of polarized 3-D shorts presented 
in 35mm four-channel magnetic stereophonic sound. 

November 1-3, 1951: Magnecord demonstrates their Binaural Magnecorder publicly for the first time at the New York Audio Fair.  Audio Engineering writes, "The Magnecord demonstration walked away with top honors as the Fair's most popular commercial exhibit...Make no mistake, binaural is one of the year's innovations."

April 1952: Capitol Records does binaural test recordings in Hollywood. 

May 22, 1952: The opening of the Audio Fair in Chicago is broadcast in binaural over WGN and WGNB. Other binaural broadcasts in the second half of the year include WJR in Detroit on June 27; WDRC in Hartford on October 29; WQXR in New York on October 29 and WCAE in Pittsburgh on November 12, 1952.

The first known binaural broadcasts were heard in 1924 over WDRC in Hartford, CT.

The Hartford Courant interviews Franklin M. Doolittle on November 11, 1952.

July 1952: Audio Engineering on binaural broadcasting.

September 11, 1952: Binaural recording session is held at Engineer's Hall in New York for Atlantic Records with 
Wilbur DeParis and his Rampart Street Ramblers.

September 30, 1952: THIS IS CINERAMA premieres in New York in 35mm six-channel magnetic stereo.

October 29 - November 1, 1952: Emory Cook debuts his two-channel binaural records at the 
New York Audio Fair and Atlantic Records issues "the first commercial binaural disc recording."  


November 20, 1952: Binaural test recordings are made by engineer Bert Whyte of Leopold Stokowski 
conducting the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. They are now available on CD.

The Maestro had a long-standing interest in high fidelity. He began working with Dr. Harvey Fletcher - Father of Stereophonic Sound - and Arthur C. Keller at Bell Laboratories in 1931 on stereophonic experiments. In March 1937, he persuaded Universal Pictures to use multiple channels to record the symphonic score for 100 MEN AND A GIRL. He later conducted the multi-channel score for FANTASIA in April 1939 and presented stereo demonstrations at Carnegie Hall on April 9 and 10, 1940. 

100 Men and a Girl has the complete American Cinematographer article.

Daily Variety - March 15, 1937

Hollywood Spectator - September 18, 1937

December 6, 1952: C. Robert Fine and David Hall are in Chicago with their recording truck for the Mercury Living Presence series. Rafael Kubelik and the Mercury Orchestra are performing Tábor from My Fatherland and Bert Whyte captures the performance in binaural on his Magnecorder.

From the collection of David Hall. Courtesy Tom Fine.

January 1953: Article in Magnecord Inc, their in-house publication.

January 1953: The Livingston Electronic Corporation offers a binaural arm.


January 1953: Binaural products are adverised in High Fidelity.

February 5 - 7, 1953: Bing Crosby Enterprises modify an Ampex 400 for three-channel magnetic recording. The demonstration tape made by audio salesman Bill Cara is played every hour at the West Coast Audio Fair in Los Angeles. Segments include the Southern Pacific arriving at the Glendale station; Lawrence Welk and his Orchestra playing their theme song; classical music from the Santa Monica Symphony and George Wright playing the Wurlitzer theater organ installed in his home. 

April 10, 1953: HOUSE OF WAX premieres in New York in four-channel 35mm mag/optical WarnerPhonic sound. 

May 19, 1953: THUNDER BAY premieres in New York in three-channel 35mm magnetic stereophonic sound.

Dr. Hans Wolf is Musical Director for Livingston Electronics. Before returning home to El Paso, Texas on July 9, 1953, he spends several months in Vienna and Italy with Ched Smiley supervising binaural recordings. 

They include the Florence May Festival Orchestra conducted by Vittorio Gui; Leo Lehner and His Young Vienna ChoirVienna Konzertschrammein; the Vienna String Symphony conducted by Kurt Rapf and Professor Rapf on the organ of Piaristenkirche. 

These recordings comprise the first two binaural discs in the Audio Collector series released circa May 1953 and the first twelve classical binaural tapes released by Audiosphere, Inc. beginning in May 1954. 

Tape Recording publishes Dr Wolf's article "Tape Makes it Easier" in April 1955.

June 1953: The first listing of fourteen binaural records is published in Audio Engineering.

August 1, 1953: Columbia introduces "Three-Dimensional Sound."

September 16, 1953: THE ROBE premieres in New York in 35mm four-channel stereophonic sound.

September 1953: Livingston releases several binaural discs.

October 6, 1953: RCA Victor tests binaural recording at Manhattan Center in New York with Leopold Stokowski.

November 20-21, 1953: Don Gabor and recording engineer Robert Blake of Remington Records do binaural recordings with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Thor Johnson, Conductor and the Helsinki University Chorus/Martte Turunen, Conductor. The records are released in mono only and the binaural tapes are issued by A-V Tape Libraries the following March.

December 1953: RCA does additional test recording in New York with Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performing Berlioz's "The Damnation of Faust."

December 1953: Concertapes and Webcor announce plans to release the first binaural tape for home use. 

January 9, 1954: Billboard reports on the growing tape market.

March 1954: Cook Laboratories offers a clip-on conversion for binaural records.

March 1954: A-V Tape Libraries release the first two commercial binaural tapes as part of their Concert Classics series.  Tape Recording reviews the full track mono release in their March/April issue and High Fidelity reviews the mono version in their May 1954 issue. Tape Recording finally reviews the binaural version in June 1956.


The image of the Sibelius box was sent by Philip Chance to Rudolf A. Bruil to be published on The Remington Site
Image courtesy Philip Chance.

The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY reviews the mono Remington album on May 23, 1954.

March 1954: The Livingston Electronic Corp. announces their new tape label, Audiosphere, Inc.

Livingston's role in establishing the stereo tape market is significant. On March 14, 1970, Billboard published an 18th anniversary salute and company president Darrell Scholten wrote an introduction:

In a February 1958 interview for 
Hi-Fi Tape Recording, Ched Smiley recalled: "Livingston entered the stereo tape field, wistful, alone and afraid, the only participant in the infant industry. Initial releases were on the only medium then available, 7½-inch per second, staggered binaural tapes with a very small library. 

Acting as an industrial bellwether, Livingston sponsored the manufacture of an inexpensive stereo playback unit, an inexpensive stereophonic amplifier and a line of associated accessories. The first two years of Livingston's hectic beginning were dominated by solving the problems encountered in their role as lone missionary for home stereo. This included endless demonstrations all over the country at audio fairs, dealers, representatives, distributors and just anybody who would listen. Techniques in stereo recording, duplicating and processing had to be developed. Also, the library had to be expanded and once again Livingston found itself in the role of a missionary essentially exhorting the flock to climb on the stereo bandwagon."

March 6, 1954: RCA records "Ein Heldenleben" with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

March 8, 1954: RCA records "Also Sprach Zarathustra" with Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

March 13, 1954: RCA Victor to issue tapes in the summer.

April 28, 1954: Variety reports on the growing market.

May 8, 1954: Webcor ships their first tapes but there is no mention of binaural. Apparently, those are not released until December 1954. 

May 1954: Audiosphere (Livingston) issues their first five binaural tapes. 

June 1954: Magnetic Recording with the first review of the Audiosphere binaural tapes.

June 6, 1954: RCA Victor is the first major label to issue pre-recorded tapes. They release sixteen mono tapes but their binaural release of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" is delayed until September due to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's exclusive contract with Mercury Records. 

June 1954: Livingston announces their first four popular titles.

September 1954: RCA Victor issues their first binaural tape.


October 1954: Audiosphere releases two new tapes and a "Bi-Fi" playback unit.

October 1954: A-V Tape Libraries advertisement.

November 13, 1954: Livingston expands with five new libraries.

December 1954: Audiosphere releases a new tape and distributes their first binaural catalog.

December 1954: Webcor/Concertapes release their first binaural tapes.

December 11, 1954: RCA to issue more binaural tapes.

March 12, 1955: London Records preparing stereo discs.

May 1955: Livingston advertisement.

August 20, 1955: RCA Victor releases three new binaural tapes.

September 1955: High Fidelity releases binaural tapes.

October 11, 1955: OKLAHOMA premieres in New York in Todd-AO six-channel stereophonic sound.

December 1955: The complete Ampex 612 stereophonic sound system is introduced.

By 1956, there are approximately seventy-five discs in the Cook binaural catalog.

February 4, 1956: Livingston is promoting their tapes on the radio.

February 13, 1956: The Stereo Soundorama demonstration is presented with Eugene Ormandy
conducting the Philadelphia Orchestra.

March 1956: Omegatape offers stereophonic tapes.

May 1956: RCA Victor with six new stereophonic tapes.

July 28, 1956: Concert Hall Society to release binaural tapes.

September 30, 1956: Bill Putnam does a stereo recording session for Concertapes.

"The Sound of Christmas" is released in November 1957.

October 1956: Bel Canto issues stereophonic tapes.

October 1956: Omegatapes advertisement.

November 1956: Sonotape releases seven stereo tapes.

December 1956: Tape Recording publishes the first stereo directory of tapes and there are 
approximately 150 titles available.

December 1956: Sony Sterecord releases five tapes.

December 1956: Bell advertises their new stereophonic tape recorder.

January 1957: RCA Victor advertisement in Life Magazine.

February 1957: Ampex delivers an eight-track recorder to Les Paul and Mary Ford.

March 1957: Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.

April 1957: RCA Victor releases new tape packaging.

April 22, 1957: Lenny Herman is the "best selling band on stereophonic tape."

May 1, 1957, Stereo Tape One-Stop in Palisades Park, NJ, issues a 48-page catalog with 350 titles.

May 1957: Stereophony Incorporated issues stereo tapes.

June 1957: Klipschtape offers 15 IPS tapes.

June 1957: Sonotape releases a stereophonic alignment tape.

June 1957: Urania releases stereo tapes.

June 24, 1957: RCA Victor makes their first disc announcement.

July 1957: The Stereo Products Company introduces the Stereophonic Listening Chair.

July 1957: Phonotapes releases stereo tapes.

July 17, 1957: Mercury releases a sampler and twelve stereo tapes.

July 20, 1957: Capitol releases thirteen stereo tapes.

August 1957: Vanguard releases stereo tapes.

August 1957: Blue Note releases two stereo tapes.

Art Blakey - ORGY IN RHYTHM: BNST 101 and 102


September 1957: Stereophonic rental library.

September 1957: Audio Fidelity releases stereo tapes.

September 1957: Contemporary releases stereo tapes.

September 1957: RCA Victor releases ten new stereo tapes.

October 1957: Bell Sound Systems advertisement.

October 1957: Concertapes release stereo tapes.

October 17, 1957: Columbia releases ten stereo tapes.

October 1957: Graflex advertisements for Ampro equipment.

November 1957: Stere-O-Craft releases eight stereo tapes.

November 1957: Webcor introduces a new tape deck with Aural Balance Control. 

Click here for the demonstration tape. 

November 1957: EMC advertisement.

December 1957: Livingston introduces Livingstonettes.

December 1957: RCA Victor releases twenty-one new tapes.

By the end of 1957, stereo music on tape had reached its highest level of popularity among audiophiles. The last three months alone had seen the release of 300 new tapes. Major labels such as RCA, Capitol, Columbia and Mercury were in the game and the December edition of the Stereo Tape Catalog offered 656 titles. There were 65 different tape decks available for playback and recording from such companies as Ampex, Bell Sound, Concertone, EMC, Magnecord, Pentron, RCA, Symphonic, Viking, VM and Webcor.

In February 1958, Hi-Fi Tape Recording published their first catalog offering tapes from the following distributors: Audio Fidelity, A-V Tape Libraries, Bel Canto, Capitol Records, Celestial Records, Columbia Records, Concertapes, Concert Hall Society, Contemporary Tape, Cook Laboratories, Counterpoint, Criteria Recording, Custom Recordex, Dyna Music Corporation, EMC Recordings, Experiences Anonymes, Fantasy, Grand Award, Hallmark, High Fidelity Recordings, His Master's Voice, Kandy Tapes, Livingston Audio Products, Manhattan Recording Corporation, Mercury Records, Montilla, Music Therapy Records, National Tape Library, Omegatape, Pentron Corporation, Period Music Company, Phonotapes, RCA Victor, Recorded Tape on the Month, Recotape, Replica, San Francisco, Sonotape Corporation, Sony Sterecord, Stereo Age Recordings, Stere-O-Craft, Stereophony Incorporated, Stereotape, Urania, Vanguard, Verve, WFB Productions and Zodiac Recording.

But that momentum was about to change. Continue to part two for the stereo disc explosion of 1958.