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.