As others have said, it really does differ from state to state.
Though not always called a "title", NJ has used a state issued record of ownership, since 1931.
Originally they were called an "Original Bill of Sale". It was issued by the seller of the car and had to be filed with the NJ Division of Motor Vehicles. When the car was subsequently resold, an "Assignment of Ownership" was filed with the DMV, and attached to the "Original Bill of Sale". In later years, the Bill of Sale was replaced by a "Certificate of Ownership", with a new one being issued every time the vehicle changed hands.
Below is a copy of the Original Bill of Sale for a 1932 Ford I own. It was issued on Aug. 6, 1932, by the selling dealer, and has 3 assignments attached to it, for the 3 owners that had the car, after the original owner. The car was stored sometime prior to WW II, and remained in storage until 1968, when my cousin found it. Because of this, we know the name of every one who owned the car, and when they bought and sold it!
If states still did it this way, it would eliminate half the posts on the Forum, because every title would have the cars complete ownership history already attached to it!