The Evolution of Car Entertainment Systems: From Radios to Multimedia Centers


Customizing your vehicle calls for high-quality parts and accessories that meet your needs. Naturally, you think of upgrades such as performance brakes, turbocharger intercoolers, and full exhaust systems. Your car entertainment system is just as vital to your overall driving experience. With the wide range of devices and technologies on the market, crafting your vehicle’s sound system is easier than you may think.

From the Early Days of Car Radios to Cassette Decks and CD Players

Automotive audio systems have been around for more than a century. The first car radios debuted in 1904, demonstrated by inventor Lee de Forest at that year’s Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Throughout the next several decades, radios became standard equipment in most vehicle makes and models.

Cassette and 8-Track Players

While connectivity kits linked vinyl record players with car audio systems, cassette tape and 8-track players were the next major development. Ford and Motorola began offering 8-track players as an optional upgrade in the mid-1960s. Starting with its 1968 models, Ford incorporated dashboard radios with built-in cassette players.

CD Players: A Pioneer Innovation

During the mid-1980s, Pioneer ushered in the next significant car audio innovation: the CD player. Car CD changers changed how we listened to music on the go. While the first of these systems were trunk-mounted, they eventually downsized to fit in the head units and dashboards. The 1987 Lincoln Town Car was the first vehicle to come equipped with an OEM CD player.

AUX Adapters, Wireless, and Bluetooth

If you’re old enough to remember the advent of AUX adaptors, you know how big of a deal this development was. Whether you had an old-school Walkman, an iPod, or even a smartphone, an AUX cord allowed you to easily hook your device up to a car audio system and play your favorite music. It wasn’t long until Bluetooth and other wireless technologies emerged, eliminating the need for AUX ports and cords altogether.

The Current Technology: Entertainment and Telematics

Today’s car audio and video technologies offer more than just entertainment value. Telematics combines multiple information channels for a complete picture of your vehicle’s systems.

From data on car engine parts to streaming music and video, telematics brings it all together in one place. GPS systems, onboard vehicle diagnostics, and other innovations link your vehicle to external information sources to significantly enhance your driving experience and help you keep your car in the best condition possible.

Telematics connectivity and infrastructure make it all work, but dashboard touchscreens provide easy access to all its data and capabilities. Pulling up your favorite Spotify playlists requires only a few quick taps on your screen. With superior-quality audio playback, you enjoy your music in high definition.

A Custom Sound Experience

Improving your vehicle’s entertainment system contributes significantly to its value and enjoyment. With carefully chosen upgrades, you can fine-tune existing equipment or assemble multiple components to create an entirely unique system. Performance auto parts and accessories suppliers like PartsHawk give you access to audio components and top-shelf products such as brakes, intakes, and exhaust muffler upgrades.

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