The phonograph was developed as a result of Thomas Edison’s work on the telegraph and the telephone. With his new machine, a person could speak into a mouthpiece and the sound vibrations would be placed on a cylinder by a recording needle in a vertical groove pattern. A mechanic for Edison named John Kreusi built the first phonograph and recited the nursery rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on it. These were the first words recorded on a phonograph.
As a result of this invention and other subsequent improvements to the device by Bell, Columbia and others, the music recording industry was born.
Edison filed for a patent on the first phonograph on Dec. 24, 1877.
In 1880, Alexander Graham Bell, his cousin, Chichester A. Bell, together with Charles Sumner Tainter, made some improvements on Edison’s invention. They used wax in the place of tin foil and a floating stylus instead of a rigid needle. A patent for the invention was awarded to C. Bell and Tainter on May 4, 1886. The improved machine was shown to the public and called a graphophone.
The older machine, using a cylinder instead of a record, was called the phonograph. The common usage of the name phonograph was widely used incorrectly for the graphophone. I doubt if anyone ever heard the old record players being referred to as graphophones.
There are several types of graphophone records that old timers are familiar with, mostly 78 or 33 rpm’s (revolutions per minute). Few, if any, of this generation have ever heard of the old graphophone records.
Our parents and grandparents listened to Joe Falcon and many of the early Cajun recording artists on the newly invented machines in the early part of last century.
Many of us can still remember listening to records being played on the brand name “Victrola” graphophones.
For the older generation, the new device, whatever they were called, represented a revolution in entertainment.
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