Thursday, January 08, 2004

Father of Digital Sound Recording dies at 70

You might not know his name, but there's very little chance your life hasn't been touched by Thomas G. Stockham who died January 6, 2003 in Salt Lake City. Stockham pioneered digital sound recording. His work led the the development of the Compact Disc. He was awarded the first-ever technical Grammy for his contributions to the recording industry. He also won an Academy Award and an Emmy for his work that improved sound for movies and television.

Here's an excerpt from a blog entry I wrote about him last year after learning that he had Alzheimer's disease and was a patient at the Veterans Administration Nursing Home in Salt Lake.

(Wednesday, February 26, 2003) I've been thinking about fathers and mothers quite a bit lately. Not necessarily the parents of human children, but those who brought a big idea into the world. Women like Hedy Lamar and Harriett Tubman. Men like Thomas Stockham and Philo Farnsworth.

First I thought about Thomas Stockham, the father of digital recording. I heard him lecture here at the University of Utah in the early 70's as he started to experiment with digital restoration of Enrico Caruso recordings. Now as I listen to Caruso on CD (or any CD for that matter), or edit audio on the desktop, it seems fitting to remember Stockham. (read complete blog entry)

"We now have a generation that doesn't know what a vinyl record or a turntable is. This ignorance is largely due to one man: Thomas Stockham. He pioneered the science of digitally recording music, which is used to make compact discs."--Bill Hammack

Read more about Thomas G. Stockham:

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