What is the history of karaoke?

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The first karaoke machine was invented by Daisuke Inoue in Kobe, Japan. He was a popular singer back then and was often asked by customers at Utagoe Kissa, the kind of coffee shops where he played at, for an instrumental version of his songs so they could sing to them at home.

Inoue recognized the potential of this kind of market, so that’s when he created the first karaoke machine, which cost 100-yen per each song. In the beginning, Inoue didn’t sell these machines, but only leased them to those interested. At the time many thought it was just a fad since the instrumental tracks kind of took away from the atmosphere of the live show. They were also considered expensive, as at the time, an 100-yen coin could pay for about two lunches.

However, it still became popular and karaoke machines started getting placed in hotels and restaurants. New businesses starting cropping up which dedicated themselves to having rooms with karaoke machines in them.

Karaoke machines matured and gained popularity throughout Asia in the ’80s, before finally making their way to the States by the early ’90s. But it wasn’t until the last decade that karaoke became a ubiquitous feature at American bars.

Inoue later earned the Ig Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for his invention of karaoke, as it was seen as a new way to have people come together and have fun.

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