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Why Do Most Electronic Devices Use 3.5mm Jacks?

Time: 2020-07-16

How did so many companies decide on the same port for audio on their devices? Did these countries and companies suddenly decide to get along with each other on this one issue? What’s the secret behind the wide acceptance of the 3.5mm jack?

Origin of the 3.5 mm audio jack

The origins of the 3.5mm jack can be traced all the way back to the 19th century. Back in 1878, a predecessor to the 3.5mm jack, a 6.35mm jack (also called the ¼” inch jack) was developed as a ‘phone connector’ used by telephone operators to direct calls manually. Back then, you couldn’t just dial a number and be connected straight away. You had to speak to an actual person (the operator) and request that they connect your call forward.

Popularity of the 3.5 mm jack

The early 20th century saw the arrival and widespread adoption of radio. Radio was the first instance where the quarter-inch jack found use in music. Every household flocked to the nearest electronic store to bring home their own music machine. People from all walks of life, from cozy New York apartments to massive houses with their own backyards, had music blaring on the radio, with some even going so far as to have conversations with it!

The exponential demand for radio allowed for the quarter-inch jack to become the new norm in the field of audio playback. Still, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that the public adopted the modern 3.5mm jack for their music listening experience.

In 1979, Sony invented the Walkman, which revolutionized the portable music industry. It was the iPod before the iPod existed. With a view to make it even more convenient, Sony made use of the smaller 3.5mm jack, which was first used in a Japanese company’s radio transistor. Everyone from college students to retirees had a Sony Walkman plugged into their ears. It was this explosive demand for the Walkman that allowed for the massive popularity of the 3.5mm jack. Moreover, the technology used in the 3.5mm port back in 1979 has remained largely unchanged to this day.

How does the 3.5 mm audio jack work?

The 3.5mm jack that we so widely use today is technically referred to as a TRS (Tip Ring Sleeve) connector. The tip, the ring and the sleeve are three integral parts of the jack. These are labelled below:

The tip transmits a current to the left speaker/earpiece, the ring transmits to the right speaker/earpiece, and the sleeve grounds the port. The black bands in between are called isolation grommets, which ensure that there is no unwanted mixing of sound between the right and left channels. If you pay attention, some 3.5mm jacks have one isolation grommet, some have two, while some even come with three. One isolation grommet means the connector comes with just a tip and a sleeve without a ring, which leads to a mono sound output. If you had earphones with a single ring, you would essentially have sound coming from only one of the earpieces. One-grommet jacks are primarily used for guitars.

Xianglong 3.5mm audio jack handset

Xianglong's handset could make to single jack or 2 ways audio jack. It's widely used in Security computer systems、Samsuang tablets、VoIP phones、kiosks,etc Industrial environment.