Tom Stockham


The Introduction of Commercial Digital Recording Technologies
in the United States

From the issue editorial:

“Moving on from early analogue recording, Dr. Simon Barber cites an equally revolutionary point in history in ‘Soundstream: The Introduction of Commercial Digital Recording’, taking as his case study the first commercial digital audio recording company in the United States. Navigating the complex political, cultural and economic territory surrounding new digital recording in the 1970s, Barber informs his article with much ethnographic work conducted with Soundstream associates.


Barber highlights the influence of yet another oft-overlooked engineer in Soundstream founder Dr. Tom Stockham. In tracing the company’s trajectory from inception to demise, points of focus include the manufacture of the first DTR (digital tape recorder), the use of a Soundstream 2-track on early 1980s Fleetwood Mac records, as well as the effect of digital recording on the wider popular music industry. Reasons behind industry take-up (including classical recording and ‘cutting edge’ development) as well as issues surrounding resistance (including analogue aesthetics and economics), are critically examined in a study that expands existing historical scholarship.”

This article was published in the Journal on the Art of Record Production, Issue 7, November 2012. It can be read in its entirety on the journal’s website.