A Brief History of Acoustics

  • Thomas D. Rossing


Although there are certainly some good historical treatments of acoustics in the literature, it still seems appropriate to begin a handbook of acoustics with a brief history of the subject. We begin by mentioning some important experiments that took place before the 19th century. Acoustics in the 19th century is characterized by describing the work of seven outstanding acousticians: Tyndall, von Helmholtz, Rayleigh, Stokes, Bell, Edison, and Koenig. Of course this sampling omits the mention of many other outstanding investigators.

To represent acoustics during the 20th century, we have selected eight areas of acoustics, again not trying to be all-inclusive. We select the eight areas represented by the first eight technical areas in the Acoustical Society of America. These are architectural acoustics, physical acoustics, engineering acoustics, structural acoustics, underwater acoustics, physiological and psychological acoustics, speech, and musical acoustics. We apologize to readers whose main interest is in another area of acoustics. It is, after all, a broad interdisciplinary field.


Rayleigh Wave Acoustical Society Physical Acoustics Basilar Membrane Tuning Fork 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



alternating current


ammonium dihydrogen phosphate


Acoustical Society of America


Bolt, Beranek, and Newman


computed angle-of-arrival transient imaging


fast Fourier transform


potassium dihydrogen phosphate


long-play vinyl record


multiple signal classification


National Defense Research Council


lead lanthanum zirconate titanate


lead zirconate titanate


Radio Corporation of America


surface acoustic wave


statistical energy analysis


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) Department of MusicStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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