The boombox changed music, inarguably.
Its prevalence in pop culture speaks to it and many things may never have happened without. Take breakdancing, for instance, or the entire career of The Beastie Boys. We’re major fans and we like to think our portable stereo speakers are a teleological evolution of the classic Ghetto Blaster, which makes this an appropriate time to look at the history of the boombox.
1969: The first boombox was called a “radio-recorder” and was released by Philips. Its intentions could not have foreseen the urban trajectory the invention would eventually follow. We hope our portable speakers do the tradition justice!
Though the exact date is unclear, boomboxes hit America in the mid-70s. Early on, only AM/FM radio was available. They were an instant hit among the youth of major American cities, particularly New York, for their compatibility. Eventually, the boombox became something of a fashion statement.
Late 70s/Early 80s:
The inclusion of input/output jacks escalated boombox popularity; microphones and turntables could now be applied them, using the boombox as an external speaker. MCs could talk over the music, prompting the earliest portable mc’ing as people narrated the music.
The boombox became a crucial component in impromptu rapping, including street performances, rap battles, and break dancing. It became an inseparable piece of technology in certain areas, a personal statement of taste and style. It inched its way permanently into the pop cultural lexicon, appearing on record covers, in films and other media to demonstrate a truth of the urban youth.
Nowadays, you still encounter boomboxes from time to time, but they no longer enjoy the prestige they once did. They have a classic look now, almost a vintage throwback to a monumental time in American city history. Next time you use a pair of our stereo speakers, think of the tradition you’re channeling! That’s all for now.