Streaming Music To Phones Is Officially The Oldest Trick In The Book

from the remind-me-again-what's-so-"smart"-about-your-smartphone? dept

Everyone has a friend who's seen everything, done everything and grown bored of everything. They're everywhere. And if you don't have a friend like this, a quick visit to any forum or comment thread will provide you with one of these "friends," whether you wanted one or not.

You know the type:
1989

[Show friend your brand-new copy of "President Yo La Tengo."] "Have you heard these guys? They're out of New Jersey, I think. They just kicked out this album.

Friend: [Underenthusiastic shrug] "Yeah. They used to be pretty good until they sold out and released their debut. I used to design guitar picks for them until they went mainstream. Pffft."

You: [Disappointed sigh]: "Well, it's an awesome album. But it may be their last great one, I guess... I'm starting to like it less already... thanks."

1999

"Whoa. Have you seen this? Just caught a few minutes of a working print for something called 'The Matrix'. Mindblowing!

Friend: [Noncomittal headnod] "This thing's been circulating the web since it appeared untitled on a Geocities page. It looks alright but I'm wondering why they didn't go with Nick Cage like the original production notes stated. I worked with Lana for a couple of years as a scriptrunner. Maybe I'll watch it when it comes to Blu-ray. "

You: [Frustrated and confused glare]: "Blu-ray?" "Lana?"

2009

"I just got a leaked beta of "Civilization V"!

Friend: "Well, I hope they fix the siege AI. Everything I see on the alpha build of 'VII' is still in need of nerfing."

You: [Unitelligble growl that rises quickly to a full roar as you strangle your 'friend' with his own tongue while screaming] "YOU DIDN'T SEE THAT ONE COMING, DID YOU!! THIS IS MY CLOSED-BETA [kidney punch] PRE-RELEASE [rib kick] LIMITED 7-INCH [eye gouge] BEATDOWN!!! [sleeper hold]
So, it is in the spirit of vindictive upmanship that I bring you this handy bit of pre-knowledge from Scientific American, via Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

The next time your friend mentions some brand new streaming service that brings music to whatever shiny piece of early-adoption he's currently using as a cellphone, sniff haughtily and backhand him (or her, although this really seems to be a "him" quality) verbally with this:

"Streaming music to a phone? Yeah, that's alright if that's the sort of thing that still impresses you. I've been streaming music to my phone for 120 years."

[Note: you do not need to be over the age of 120 to make this statement. It would be much more awesome if you were, but it shouldn't make your bombshell any less devastating.]

The July 2, 1892, Scientific American Supplement reported on the use of a device called the theatrophone that had been in use for two years already in Paris. The basic idea was to be able to call into a theater and hear live music being played. One could either subscribe to receive the service in home or utilize one of the theatrophones set up in various locales such as hotels, restaurants, vestibules, and cafes throughout the city.
While said friend is still trying to wrap his "been-there-done-that" mind around a concept that includes places he's never been and things he's never done, add insult to injury by pointing out how advanced this system was:
The theatrophone had 3 cables, 2 used for the transmission of music and the other for an alarm set for 5 minutes, keeping track of the listener's time and changing theaters at each interval. If a listener happened to catch the live performance as it was ending or during an intermission, he would be wired into a different location for the remainder of time paid for. If all theaters were in an intermission, then the listener would be treated to recorded piano music so his money was not wasted.
As your friend devolves into a blind panic as he searches for a pre-19th century rebuttal, drop this final piece of science onto his trend-setting ass:
At the time of the article, there were 100 theatrophones installed in Paris running on 11 different lines, as well as a number of private subscribers who paid a fixed amount for a certain number of listenings in the home.
Subscription service? Streaming? Multiple users? Home version? Been there. [BAM!] Done that. [BOO-YAH!]

[Make some sort of victorious karate chop/touchdown/"suck it loser" motion and stroll away from the blubbering wreck of a human being you've left behind. Casually toss a $180 faux-vintage Pong shirt at him to dry his eyes on and head to the nearest forum/comment thread to gloat.]



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 5:56am

    Please tell me your douchebag commentary is not becoming a regular feature on this site.

    There's already enough of that as it is.

    Why can't there be more Michael Ho?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Bas Grasmayer (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Re:

    Play nice.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:20am

    Prior art!

    Thrilled to see this. Shame, tho, that they didn't use the term 'over the Internet' somewhere in there, so long ago, to save us from the gaggle of trivial patent filings sure to come.

     

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  4.  
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    A.R.M. (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:23am

    There's more to the story.

    July 7, 1892
    The PIAA sues the company responsible for delivering the "theatrophone" for copyright infringement. The company was found guilty and had to pay $150 million (dollars not adjusted), which forced them to shut down, leaving the few who paid without any service.

    July 7, 2000
    Deja vu. Just replace "theatrophone" with Napster and "PIAA" with RIAA.

    July 7, 2153
    Deja vu part two. Just replace "theatrophone" with human rights and "PIAA" with Disney.

     

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  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:41am

    Re:

    Tim, I hope you didn't give up your day job (or drop your major in school) for this stuff. Holy crap, you are bad. Not only are you not funny, but you end up sounding like one of those tin foil hat nutjobs that everyone makes fun of.

    It's embarrassing to even read it, I can't imagine how you feel to have your name attached to it.

     

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  6.  
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    James Barnes, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:42am

    teleharmonium closer to home

    Then there was Thadeus Cahill's Teleharmonium. Installed in New York in 1906 this polyphonic synth streamed performances over the telephone - to subscribers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telharmonium

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:44am

    Way to go, jerk!

    Now you've ruined the family\business that owned the theatrophone. The RIAA is going to sue them into the ground.

     

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  8.  
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    FUDbuster (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:45am

    How many Redbulls have you had this morning? Be honest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    taoareyou, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:50am

    Well

    I enjoyed the article and learned something. As for the negative comments, you can't put much stock in critics who lack the confidence in their own remarks to sign them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    FUDbuster (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:00am

    Re: Well

    I enjoyed it too. Nice to have an article about tech that isn't whining about how dumb IP is for a change.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:00am

    Re: Well

    So your parents only gave you a single name? Wow, you and Cher and Beyonce are all special now!

     

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  12.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:05am

    Re: Re: Well

    I think the real trolls get upset when every article ISN'T about those things, because how do you troll a funny and interesting piece on the existence of current tech in an old-timey form 100 years ago?

    Uh, besides blindly attacking the author, I mean.

    Tims of the world unite!

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:13am

    Tim, a little (unsolicited) advice:

    Content: 95/100. Awesome job. Really enjoyable reading about this.
    Commentary: 0/100. Seriously buddy, take it down a notch. You have things to talk about and can do that without the addition of whatever you were spewing forth up there. You're a smart guy. You know how. You don't need to grab a reader's attention that way.

     

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  14.  
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    martyburns (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Well

    Tim = ?

    The Interesting Mike?
    Totally Into Mike?
    Totally Idiotic Madman?
    Temporarily Insane Man?
    Tiresome Inane Mumbling?
    Threestrikes Is Messiah?
    Turd In Mouth?
    Tries Informing Maladroitly?

    I'll go with the second to last one.

     

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  15.  
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    The eejit (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:17am

    Re: Re: Well

    Yes, my name....is Doctor.

     

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  16.  
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    martyburns (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well

    Whoops!

    I totally fucked that up. I didn't realise Tim Cushing had written that and thought the reference to Tim above was to the first AC.

    Sorry Tim, I thought the article was interesting :-) Forgive me!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Well

    It would be fine, except the tech isn't the same at all. Far from it.

    A classic telephone is how you get sound and sound only from one place to another, controlled only by the sender, and at a time selected by the sender. The receiving end has two choices, listen or hang up.

    A streaming service delivers digital content at the beck and call of the receiver, and the receiver controls the content. They can choose the music, they can choose the time they receive it. The sender is only an automated store house.

    The logical conclusion based on Tim's post is that sound has existing for millions of years, so anything that makes sound has already been done. We don't need innovation, we have already innovated everything.

     

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  18.  
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    martyburns (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well

    Ill change my vote to The Interesting Man..

     

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  19.  
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    martyburns (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well

    We don't need innovation, we have already innovated everything

    Sweet! No more patents!

     

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  20.  
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    dcee (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    Funny is relative to the reader, just either find it funny or not, don't go around saying that you know what funny is, it shows you don't know much about humor. BTW, I found it funny.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Patrick (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 8:10am

    Hipsters

    The article sounds like it's about hipsters. I guess the AC's are one, and take offense.

     

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  22.  
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    Dirt_is_Fun (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 9:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well

    Wait, I thought we'd already invented everything!?!? Argh, I'm so confused.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 9:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Well

    We don't need innovation, we have already innovated everything.

    Combining two things in an obvious way can be innovation. Modern mobile phones + old way to listen to music over a phone = mobile music streaming.

    But just because it is innovation doesn't mean it deserves monopoly protection (patents).

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Liam, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 9:21am

    Erm.. doesn't really work

    =/ In each case provided for the "know it all" friend, he had actually done/seen/heard those things. Knowing about a device from 120 years ago that uses similar ideas is not really the same thing.

     

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  25.  
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    MrWilson, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re:

    "It's embarrassing to even read it, I can't imagine how you feel to have your name attached to it."

    Of course you can't. You're an anonymous coward...

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 9:27am

    Re: Hipsters

    Yes, but they take offense in an obscure way that you've never heard of and they were offended long before Tim ever made the post.

     

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  27.  
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    Khstapp, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 9:59am

    So is streaming music to subscribers a non-obvious invention for those learned in the arts and therefore worthy of a patent? Looks like prior art to me

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well

    The only issue is that this is not the case. Music streaming isn't at all like listening to someone over the phone. The transmission methods are different, the controlling party is different, the content is different, and so on.

    You can find similarities between almost anything if you want to look at it in a specific way. The internet is just an outcrop of cavemen painting on the walls.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Re:

    Calm down there buddy. I didn't say not funny. I don't believe I used the word 'funny' at all in my comment. I like Tim, and I always find something in his articles that I enjoy. I'm not trolling. I genuinely think he has a good point but gets a bit overexcited about making it.

    P.S. I'm not funny.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 3:49pm

    Believe It Or Not, Thatís What Phones Were Originally About

    As I recall, Alexander Graham Bell thought phones would be mainly used to listen to theatrical performances. The idea that they would end up primarily as a means for people to talk to one another took everyone by surprise.

    We see a similar mistake being made today by those who think their proprietary content is somehow essential to the survival of the Internet.

     

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  31.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 4:04pm

    Re:

    I lost count at 8...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Well

    Forgiven. I'm also cool with Threestrikes Is Messiah, if only because I'd really like to work the word "Messiah" into my name somehow.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Hipsters

    There are lots of great comments in this thread, but I'm very fond of this one...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Jun 1st, 2011 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, I appreciate the genuine constructive criticism, which is rarely delivered by anyone sporting the initials "AC".

    Some post ideas grab me as something to go "over the top" with and others are better off with a subtler touch. I'm not sure what I'm saying here but I think it has something to do with "this will probably happen again" but I won't be doing it just to spite you (or anyone else), if that makes sense...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 1st, 2011 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This is the original AC in this thread (I'm no longer at work, so I'll have a different snowflake: No offense intended from my end, and I certainly won't take any if you said you were throwing out what I said because you totally disagree. It's your article, not mine. I didn't like the style in which this was written. I'm no writer so I don't feel like I could do better, but I know what I'd like to see.

    Off topic: I like being AC because I have a co-worker who occasionally posts trolling comments and it looks like I'm arguing with myself. I actually have an insider account but rarely log in anymore.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 12:44am

    I liked it :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    MrJodie, Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 11:00am

    How was this better than radio?

    Of course, it's almost on demand... depending on which switchboard operator you got. Seriously. How much before live radio was this?

    If it had been just a little sooner Lincoln and his wife would have been listening to a performance at the White House.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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