A Brief History of Karaoke Machines

10 Jul 2018

Karaoke has been part of popular culture for decades, first appearing in Japan in the 1970s, where it is still a favourite form of entertainment for people of all ages. As it encourages everyone to sing – even those who can’t carry a tune – and requires just a karaoke machine to do so, it is easy to see why karaoke has become so popular. We are taking a trip down memory lane to look back at the history of karaoke machines and how it all began.

Humble Origins

In Japan, it is common to provide music entertainment at dinners or parties, and the man often credited with inventing karaoke, Daisuke Inoue was a drummer for a band who provided backup music in clubs for businessmen who wanted to sing. In 1971, Inoue developed the basics of a karaoke machine by providing a tape of the music backing when his band couldn’t perform one night. When he realised this idea of providing a tape with backing music would be a popular trend for clubs and bars in Kobe, Japan, Inoue began to rent out machines fitted with tapes and amplifiers. Though the machines, which he called ‘Juke 8’, were a little slow to catch on, he was proved right, and the first karaoke machines were born, spreading around the county.

International Craze

Though it was initially deemed an expensive craze, it seemed like karaoke and the machines were here to stay, and karaoke machines were put in places like restaurants and hotel rooms, where people could sing to entertain others. The rooms where karaoke machines were set up were commonly referred to as karaoke boxes, and these are still found around East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

Sadly, Daisuke Inoue did not patent his invention and did not profit from the developing industry of karaoke machines. In the 1980s, Roberto del Rosario, a Filipino inventor, patented the device now recognised as the karaoke machine called the Sing Along System, and karaoke began spreading further than Asia.

As karaoke began to become popular all over the world, in-home karaoke machines soon followed those found in bars and clubs. Karaoke UK has been a major supplier of karaoke machines to the UK’s home and leisure industry since the 80s too. In those days, the karaoke would be on a cassette tape, and the lyrics read from a sheet of paper – times have changed!

Changing Machines

To break into overseas markets, karaoke machines were not always strictly for singing but could serve as home theatre systems, with karaoke as an additional feature. The machines moved away from cassette tapes, using laser discs and then to CDs, USB and downloads, and a screen to read the lyrics from. The karaoke machines continued to develop with changes in technology, with touch screen systems, radio microphones, mixers and much more being incorporated into the machines.

Today’s Karaoke Business

Though today you can get online and find almost any song’s instrumental track and lyrics, the karaoke business is estimated at $10 billion. It is a form of entertainment in bars and clubs around the world; a feature at parties for all ages and entertainment that will put a smile on anyone’s face. Have a look at the best karaoke machines we have available on our online store.

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