The First Phonograph

Before CDs, before vinyl LPs and 45s, before fragile 78 disk records . . .

        . . . was the era of wax cylinder records

From the earliest phonographs in 1877, courtesy of Mr. Thomas A. Edison, the cylinder was the preferred geometric form for a sound recording. The first records were made on strips of tinfoil, the predecessor of household aluminum foil, wrapped around a 4-inch diameter drum. The drum was hand-cranked at about 60 revolutions per minute (RPM) and the phonographic apparatus made sound impressions upon the foil. The expected lifetime of a foil recording was short because after a few playbacks the sound impressions were either worn down or the foil had ripped!

Original replica of the first phonograph.
Photo credit 1.

Phonograph recording on tinfoil.
Photo credit 5.

Click here to see a close-up showing the sound impressions.

Please note:    Click on the images to see a full-sized view.

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