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The Phonograph

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



The phonograph is machine for recording and then transmitting sounds, speech, music, etc. It is the invention of Thomas A. Edison, the most noted electrician of this age. The phonograph was accidentally discovered. Mr. Edison was at work on an apparatus for recording a telegraphic message, by having an armature (with a needle fastened in one end) of the sounder make indentations on a piece of tin foil wrapped around a cylinder. The message would thus he punctured or indented on this tin foil, then, by substituting another needle blunt for the sharp one and turning the cylinder, the armature would be vibrated as the needle entered into and passed out of the indentations. While experimenting, he turned the cylinder very rapidly, and instead of a succession of "clicks," a musical sound was produced. He seized the idea, and the Edison phonograph is the result.

The perfected phonograph of today consists of a cylinder of wax, or other plastic material, which is revolved either by hand, foot power, or an electric motor. This cylinder, called the phonogram, is used for recording the sound. This is done by a diaphragm such as is used in a telephone into the center of which is fastened a sharp needle, which rests upon and just touches the phonogram. When the words are spoken the diaphragm vibrates, moving this needle up and down, and a series of indentations are made in a spiral line on the phonogram, which is turning around about eighty-five times a minute. To make the phonograph speak, or repeat the words, an-other diaphragm, similar to the first recorder, but having a blunt instead of a sharp needle, is placed at the starting point and the phonogram made to revolve; of course, as the needle passes over the indentations it vibrates the diaphragm and the words are reproduced, as in a telephone.

The phonograph faithfully reproduces music, whistling, singing, speech, or any sounds, and the phonograms can be packed into a mailing tube and sent all over the world to be used as often as desired.



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