Where did tracking error go?

Back in the dark ages, when men were men and I still owned vinyl......
There were many tonearm designs, not to mention linear tracking designs that were meant to keep the stylus perfectly in the track as the tonearm moved in an arc across the record.
My local dealer carries a few fancy schmancy turntables - but none of the tonearms address this. He couldn't answer the tracking error question - in fact he looked like he hadn't heard of it before.
How did we make this go away? What's next - gravity?
The phenomenon still exists, if that's what your asking. Depending of what level of playback you want to address it is more or less of an issue.

Many of the mid to high end arms and cartridges these days provide for very good control and adjustment to relegate mis-tracking to not much more than an after thought. However, there are those dynamic recordings that can present a challenge.
The term "tracking error" relates to the change of azimuth angle which occurs as a pivoting arm goes from the outside grooves to the inner ones because the record was cut with a linear tracking arm. I believe that azimuth error has more to do with distortion than mistracking, where "mistracking" is taken to mean that the stylus loses contact with the groove.

Azimuth error is only one of many considerations in the setup of LP playback equipment, and is not realy correctable by careful adjustments in context of a pivoting arm, so people tend to focus on the things they can usefully adjust.

I use a linear tracking arm, and find it to be effective and trouble-free.
I guess we understand it better now... it has been researched so much that it isnt an issue anymore...

Tracking error is still an issue -- it will always be an issue with a pivoted arm. Analog playback is fraught will imprecision and error... and yet it works.
Eldartford, excellent answer. Linear tracking may not be perfect but superior in every way to cutting across a circle with a circle (round LP with pivoting arm).

round record with a pivoting arm is a good approximation with a nice arm if one doesn't have the commitment level and total lack of compromise of your stratospheric Walker setup
When I left the vinyl world, linear tracking was what I was using.
Not that I'm going back there, but from what I'm gathering - linear tracking still is offered? I haven't seen any such turntables advertised or in person.
Tracking error in pivoted arms as opposed to linear arms didn't go anywhere of course, it's just that, as with direct-drive vs. belt-drive, there are reasons why one method has generally prevailed in the home audio market, and those reasons have to do with factors other than what most resembles an inverse process for how LPs are cut, because there are advantages and difficulties to each method.
Audiotomb...My system is quite low altitude, but the linear tracking arm benefits are real. I think that elimination of skating force is the most important benefit...much more than the azimuth angle issue.
The benefits of low anti-skate compensation were explained to me some time ago and my experiences agree with you, Eldartford. I have been able to reduce AS force considerably, it's now down to around 1/2 gram, on my TriPlanar to great benefit. There are many LP's in my collection that I can play with no AS compensation at all and no sign of mis-tracking. I am assuming here that this indicates that there is not much skating force being applied, or that the TriPlanar is able to deal with what little there is very well.

I know I'm not dealing from experience when I say this, but I'd rather be happy with my current pivoting arm that get into dealing with the compressor and other such things that come with a linear tracker. Someday, maybe.
Dan_ed...I don't claim to be an expert on adjustment of antiskating force...in fact the futility of getting this right across the diameter of the LP, along with several other angles and forces, is what led me to seek out linear tracking. With linear tracking there is NO skating force, (not just low) and therefore no anti force to tweek up.

By the way, not all linear arms involve air compressors. The objective of an air bearing is to be frictionless, so that the pickup will move without sideforce. Well, perfection is hard to achieve, and there will be some sideforce. Another way to achieve a frictionless bearing is to use an electronic servo, and that is how my arm works. Don't be taken in by the criticism that use of a servo will inevitably result in "hunting". (Constantly moving back and forth trying "to get it right"). Only a primitve or badly designed algorithm will cause a servo to hunt. The basic control concept of my arm is to move the pivot point of its short arm at a steady rate that corresponds to nominal groove spacing. The arm angle is constantly measured, and if the groove spacing is other than nominal an arm angle will develop and then the pivot movement rate is slowly modified so as to restore zero arm angle. Note that the arm pivot point movement never stops or changes direction, so there is no jerkyness due to friction. Also, the servo does not move the arm, which is free to pivot, but only the pivot point. According to spec, the arm angle (which translates to cartridge azimuth angle)is maintained within +/- 0.05 degree.
Like I said, "someday". :) I will take your words to heart and make sure to get a good one.

I don't agree that absence of skating forces is a bigger deal than incorrect azimuth. Variously adjusting anti-skate on my table produces relatively little change in sound quality. Even though the counterforce can't be 100% correct across the record's entire surface, I think it balances out at a low enough net force not to be a real problem for sound quality or record longevity. On the other hand, slightly changing stylus alignment angles can affect the sound more, especially with line-contact tip shapes.

It seems to me another potentially big advantage to linear-tracking would be the possibility of basically eliminating the tonearm (and any horizontal pivot point) altogether, but with the exception of the Souther most linear-tracking designs haven't pursued this goal for whatever reasons.
If azimuth is grossly mis-aligned I will agree with you, Zaikesman.

In my setup I can easily hear the difference in AS setting changes of as little as 1/4 gram.
Zaike...I didn't mean to say that azimuth angle (also solved by linear tracking) is unimportant. The importance of skating force became evident to me when my Shure V15mr got through the Shure tracking test at 1/2 gram. It took 1 gram to do that with my pivoting arm. This is an objective (not subjective) measure. I still run the pickup at 1 gram, for other reasons.

I came to linear tracking as a result of attending a seminar on how to set up a vinyl playback system. Linear tracking was not even mentioned at the seminar. However, as a result of the seminar I learned about all the geometry, forces, and angles, and how they can mostly be adjusted only to compromise values, good only at one or two points on the LP. Some things, like making sausage, it is better not to watch. If I hadn't attended that seminar I would probably be happy with a pivoting arm!
I didn't say anything against linear arms, or in preference of pivoted ones. If we're talking about the theoretical ideal for how a cartridge ought to traverse a record, of course the answer is linearly. I just don't feel that skating forces in particular are all that big a deal -- that they can be adequately compensated for, and don't affect the sound all that much. Your anecdote about tracking force seems intriguing, but I don't think it qualifies as definitive evidence on the effects of skating forces, or in choosing which type of arm to go with, due to uncontrolled variables. To me, the weakest points of any tonearm design are probably their resonances, followed by their bearings -- and then their geometry -- and as a breed, linear arms don't solve the first two problems any better than do pivoted ones, if even as well. I think there's always a trade-off involved either way you go, but that both approaches can be made to work acceptably well if not perfectly.
BTW, meant to correct this days ago and forgot, but the variable tracking angle error -- as compared with the constant cutting angle -- that's intrinsic to pivoted arms and absent from linear ones isn't the "azimuth", as was implied above (it's simply the tracking angle error). As I'm sure everyone really knows but may have temporarily spaced on, azimuth is the vertical perpendicularity of the stylus in relation to the plane of the record surface in line with the cantilever, and is adjusted by rotating the headshell or tonearm about its longitudinal axis, something that's not different for the two types of arms. Couldn't let that one stand for posterity you know...
Zaike...Well, I didn't know that terminology. It is a bit strange because "Azimuth" in any context except audiophillia, means an angle that lies in the horizontal plane. IMHO, the proper terminology would be "Azimuth" "Elevation" and "Roll", but then this is just an engineer talking.

Question...I just looked over a brochure that came in the mail from Audio Advisor and it states that "A high-quality turntable system removes 90 percent of the record surface noise...". That might be a reasonable claim for a record cleaning machine but I am quite at a loss to see how, physically, a turntable could do that. Ideas anyone?
That terminology? It's just an advertising man talking...