Edison's first phonograph, 1877.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 26cm x 32cm

Edison's first phonograph, 1877.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Replica. The world's first recording machine arose, like the telephone, from work on the telegraph. Developing a machine that recorded Morse code by indenting a paper strip, Thomas Edison (1847-1931) noticed that when running fast it produced distinctive noises. He adapted the idea to sound recording by wrapping tinfoil around a rotating drum and indenting it with a stylus which vibrated in sympathy with the sound. This first machine had two heads; one for recording and another, which presed more gently on the foil, for reproducing.

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