Alan Blumlein who is acknowledged as the inventor of binaural and stereo recording is to be awarded a posthumous Grammy Award for Technical Merit by The Recording Academy later this year.
A Prolific Inventor And Engineer
Alan Dower Blumlein who was born on 29th June 1903 and died on 7th June 1942 was an English electronics engineer, notable for his many inventions in telecommunications, sound recording, stereophonic sound, television and radar, but is probably best known as the inventor of stereo recording. Although his life was cut short, he received 128 patents and was considered as one of the most significant engineers and inventors of his time.
A Tragic Accident
He died during World War II on 7 June 1942, aged 38, during the secret trial of an H2S airborne radar system then under development, when all on board the Halifax bomber he was flying in were killed when it crashed at Welsh Bicknor in Herefordshire.
Television Too - Not Just Sound
Blumlein was also largely responsible for the development of the waveform structure used in the 405-line Marconi-EMI system which became the UK's BBC Television Service at Alexandra Palace, becoming the world's first scheduled "high definition" (240 lines or better) television service.
A Engineer's Test
Below is a film made by Alan Blumlein, the inventor of stereo sound, to demonstrate his creation whilst he was working at EMI. Alan lodged the patent for what he called 'binaural' sound in 1931, in a paper which patented stereo records, stereo films and also surround sound. He and his colleagues made a series of experimental recordings and films to demonstrate the technology.
Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman of Universal Music Group, which owns EMI, told us...
Alan Dower Blumlein and his prolific period of invention whilst at EMI, not only transformed audio and music recording technology, but also helped shape modern media communications for generations to come through his pioneering work in television.
The Grammy will be accepted by Blumlein’s son Simon at a special US ceremony later this year. Simon Blumlein added....
It is a great honour for my father and the Blumlein family to be recognised with such a prestigious award. We’re so immensely proud of him and how his work transformed sound recording.
A Movie Coming?
We also understand that like his contemporary Alan Turing, there are plans to turn Alan Blumlein life story into a film by the Universal Music Group which merged with EMI in 2012.
What Might Have Been?
I cannot help wondering what Alan Blumlein would have gone on to invent and develop if his life hadn't been cut short by the plane crash in 1942 when he was just 39. Thank you to The Recording Academy for acknowledging the contribution Alan Blumlein made to sound recording with this Special Merit Technical Grammy.