When I was growing up my father’s home-built stereo system—the envy of our neighbors and relatives—was monophonic. To fill our living room with sound there were two sets of parallel-wired speakers built into the left and right sides of the room. The lowest frequencies were handled by a subwoofer he had built into a commandeered hall closet.
We were in monophonic heaven.
Then, in the early 1960s, just before I was hijacked by the US government to serve my time in the Army, stereo arrived. My father was anxious to try it out.
In those days, moving from monophonic to stereo was a pretty big deal: a new phono cartridge and at a minimum, a second channel for the preamp, and the amplifier were required. *(By the late 1950s and early 1960s there were a few stereo-specific amps and preamps available but for most HiFi aficionados like my father, this new stereo thing was an unknown. Possibly a gimmick. Easier to cobble together something just to see what all the fuss was about).
Following an entire weekend of setting up the extra equipment which—to the horror of my mother—wound up strewn across the living room floor, we were ready to hear what all the fuss of stereo was about. That’s when my Dad pulled out the only stereo album he had managed to find at the local record store. Instead of music, it was an entire recording of stereo sound effects including my favorite, a locomotive traveling from left to right across our living room.
That single demo was amazing. Instead of what we were used to, a wall of monophonic sound filling the room, suddenly there was another element. Dimensionality.
To me, the addition of stereo was of the same magnitude as the next revolution, color television.