Bell and Tainter's graphophone, 1886-1887.

Bell and Tainter's graphophone, 1886-1887.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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Replica made in 1987. Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) developed his response to Edison's phonograph with Chichester Bell and Charles Sumner Tainter between 1880 and 1886. Like the phonograph, it makes a cylindrical record, but a crucial difference was the use of wax, rather than tinfoil, as the recording medium. Wax allowed the groove to be incised, not merely indented, giving higher quality recordings. It became the standard medium until the advent of magnetic recording in the 1940s.
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