Arguably the desire for high dynamic ranges, low harmonic distortion, and wide frequency ranges, always held by classical music enthusiasts, would have been satisfied in time with electronic byproducts from the space program. But the wishes of a small number of classical recording consumers could not drive electronic companies to accelerate technological advancements. The baby-boomer Beatle fans, the largest consumer block in the world, did provide electronic companies with a realization that development expenses would be recouped.
The electronic industry took off when the tremendous number of baby-boomers, led by the Beatles, began buying music and music related products at a dizzying pace. This particular aspect of the Beatle Phenomenon is often overlooked, but a few examples should suffice to stimulate recognition of some rather staggering effects.
Early fans of the Beatles listened to their first albums on (perhaps now forgotten) record players. Few children (early Beatle consumers) had a hi-fi in their home. These were more than likely prohibited from corrupting Dad's console with such "rubbish". The monophonic record player was a small inexpensive unit that could be used behind closed bedroom doors. The sound they produced was somewhat like that of a radio tuned in the AM band during a lightning storm. This was okay then. The high pitched words and harmonies of the Beatles came through. The musical sounds that needed to be reproduced were very simple. As the Beatles music progressed, with the addition of orchestration and sound effects, the record player became more and more unsatisfactory. Today the record player is still sold as a toy for pre-school children. Other children and adults now have access to stereos. Cheap boom-boxes can reproduce sound better today than dad's hi-fi console of yesteryear. This change in technology did not happen merely because the years went by. The technology was created to keep up with challenges the Beatles continually issued with each musical innovation they introduced or inspired others to produce.
Another example of the Beatles' impact on recording technology can be seen in todays digital MIDI and electronic sound effect components. It is startling to consider that when the Beatles disbanded in 1969, the MOOG synthesizer was the most advanced of such items. The Beatles used one themselves on the Abbey Road album. Today it is a relic. With few exceptions, most other artist's experiments with the MOOG resulted in tacky sounds at best, headache material at worst. All the other effects you hear in Beatles music were created using backward tapes, distortion, filters, and unfamiliar musical instruments.
Most of their music was recorded using four track recorders. Multi tracking was accomplished by overlaying new tracks onto existing tracks. The successful result of their pioneering (and those who challenged by these pioneered further development) created the multi-track recording studio, fuzz box, delay unit, drum machine, etc. that are in use today. Really a matter of economics - expensive studio time to pioneer effects, compared to black boxes that can instantly do similar functions. Studio time to layer two tracks of sound over another two tracks of sound, compared to 64 channels of independent sound control that can be added to, subtracted from, and combined in millions of combinations. The desire to multi-track, create unique sounds, and experiment with new instruments was spawned by the creativity of the Beatles work. The audience for these artistic endeavors was also created (perhaps trained) by them.
Repeated referrences to the innovations of the Beatles, and the innovations of those inspired by the Beatles, is not meant to minimize the contributions of other artists; but to point up that many artists were inspired by the Beatles to stretch the limits of rock and roll. Most pop and rock artists will readily confirm this. Innovation was not the exclusive property of the Beatles. For example, it was not innovative when the Beatles used animal sounds on Good Morning. The effect had been used before on the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds. The Beatles admired that album, and copped the idea from it. However, when the Beach Boys were asked about the innovation of Pet Sounds they said they were inspired by the Beatles Rubber Soul album. This is but one of many examples of artists inspired and motivated by the Beatles.
This influence goes back to the British Invasion, when acts from England who could play similar music (Mersey-beat) and sported Beatle haircuts could enjoy success. American artists learned quickly that imitation brought rewards, as they watched those who refused to join in fade from public favor. The most blatant American imitation (actually the epitome) came from four actors portraying longhaired whimsical musicians (their music performed by studio musicians) known as the Monkees. Even their creature name was misspelled. Crass and obvious as it was they enjoyed great success not only on the pop charts, but on television as well.
The Monkees and Paul Revere and The Raiders (appropriately named as an American defensive against the British Invasion) were among the last of the simple imitators. I call these simple imitations because long hair, catchy upbeat tunes, and exposure was all that was required to emulate the Beatles during the early years of their career.
The emulation ante was upped in late 1965 when the Beatles released their Rubber Soul album (original name The Magic Circle). For the first time in rock album history the artist's name was absent from the cover. In a way this symbolized the removal of the "old" Beatles, protrayed on the Sgt. Pepper's album as wax dummies. They would no longer tour. The studio was the only outlet capable of serving their higher-than-tech musical ideas. Emulators would need to adapt accordingly.