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The Phonograph Came From A Prick On The Finger

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



THOMAS A. EDISON tells how he happened to invent the phonograph. He says : " I discovered the principle by the merest accident. I was singing to the mouth-piece of a telephone, when the vibrations of my voice sent the fine steel point into my finger. That set me to thinking. If I could record the action of the point and send the point over the same surface afterward, I saw no reason why the thing should not talk. I tried the experiment first on a strip of telegraph paper and found that the point made an alphabet. I shouted the words ` Halloo! Halloo!' into the mouth-piece, ran the paper back over the steel point, and heard a faint ` Halloo ! Halloo,' in return, and I determined to make a machine that would work accurately, and gave my assistants instructions, telling them what I had discovered. They laughed at me. The phonograph is the result of the pricking of a finger." On a recent visit to Edison's works at Orange, I heard a brass band playing into one instrument, a star singing into another, and an elocutionist talking into another. I was there told by a specialist who had spent much time experimenting upon the instrument, that the new improvements to the phonograph would make it about perfect as a speaking machine.

The wizard was asking Nature for other secrets at the very time she touched him gently on the finger and told him of the phonograph. Most of his inventions were the result of a purpose reached only after months or years of work and disappointment, this one he confesses came to him by accident. It was only because he had such a broad knowledge of sound and electricity that he knew what the slight touch on his finger meant. A million average hands might have been touched by the sharp wire without result ; it was only because it was Edison's finger that was pricked that there came the phonograph.

The things we intend to do are hardly half of the things we do. The incidental or accidental events of our lives set afloat influences that shall never die.

The little things of life contain important principles, and lead to great results. In the spiritual realm the simple pricking of a finger often leads to unveiling mysteries, and opening the halls of melody.

Every word we speak, every act we perform, every thought we think, goes into a talking machine which will tell its story for or against us at the Last Day.



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