Edison's first phonograph, 1877

Edison's first phonograph, 1877

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Edison's first phonograph, historical artwork. The phonograph was devised in 1877 by the US inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931). It both recorded and recreated sounds using a foil-wrapped cylinder (centre). A sound receiver (round) rested lightly on the foil by a needle (not seen). Sound waves made the receiver vibrate, leaving a trace on the foil as the cylinder was turned with the handle at right. The recorded sound could then be recreated by attaching the sound horn (upper right) to the receiver, adjusting the position of the needle to the start of the trace, and rotating the cylinder. Distorted but recognisable sounds were produced. From Physique Populaire (E. Desbeaux, 1891).

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